I don’t usually delve into local politics, but there’s an interesting little drama being played out in the Albany DA’s race.
The challenger in the race, Lee Kindlon, is facing what amounts to an ethics probe. County officials are trying to determine whether he filed false time sheets while serving as an alternate public defender.
The problem – based on what I’ve read in the TU – is that Kindlon was working full time in a private law firm while he was supposedly working full time on county-assigned cases.
From an ethics review standpoint, this shouldn’t be a complicated case. The basic questions are:
Are the time sheets accurate?
Are the time sheets accurate?
Was he working on his private legal practice when his time sheets indicate that he was working for the county?
Are full time county employees allowed to have an outside practice of law?
Was he treated like every other attorney in the alternate defender's office?
A report in today’s TU pits Kindlon against the Albany County Sheriff, with Kindlon saying that he was at the county jail many more times than the sign-in sheets would indicate, and the sheriff saying no one gets in without being signed in.
My presumption is that Kindlon was remiss at times in following proper procedures, but probably didn’t bilk the county in an egregious way. Kindlon doesn’t strike me as that kind of individual.
That said, desperation in a political race will make people do ill-advised things – like claim that the county’s probe of his time sheets is politically-motivated.
In this regard, Kindlon is now on the attack, claiming that he is being “swiftboated” by the campaign of his opponent, the incumbent DA David Soares.
For the record, I’m agnostic on Mr. Soares. He’s done some good things (like helping get rid of Herb Teitelbaum) and there are some matters where I’ve disagreed with him (like not doing more to clean up Albany political corruption.)
What I really don’t like and what disturbs me most, however, is when ethics probes, even simple ones like the review of Kindlon’s time sheets, get politicized. And the person doing that now is Kindlon himself.
I get what he’s doing – the best defense is a good offense, but this is ridiculous.
Kindlon needs to cooperate fully with the county officials conducting the review. If he made a mistake on the time sheets, he should say so and be done with the matter – not carry on about political conspiracies.
Kindlon says this is a matter of “honor” for him, but the honorable thing to have done is to work full time in a full time job.
And by the way, I’m sure Mr. Kindlon is not the only public official in Albany whose time sheets ought to be reviewed. The easiest way to avoid a time sheet scandal is for full time employees to have just one full time job, and to work full time at that job. I’ve got to wonder if Mr. Kindlon were to become DA would he still maintain his law practice? And if not what is the difference between the way he would treat the DA job and the way he treated his full time job at the alternate defenders office? I just convinced myself that Mr. Kindlon has a serious ethics issue to come to grips with, not with his timesheets but with his own sense of honor.