Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy announced Thursday that he will not seek a third term in office following a 16-month investigation into his campaign finances by the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office.
Mr. Levy said Thursday that he has turned over his entire $4 million war chest to the DA.
“Questions have been raised concerning fundraising through my political campaign,” Mr. Levy said. “Since this occurred under my watch I accept responsibility.
“In order to resolve these questions, I will be turning over my campaign funds to the Suffolk County District Attorney.”
District Attorney Thomas Spota said in a statement Thursday that while the investigation revealed “serious issues in regard to fundraising,” he is confident the county executive never profited from his actions.
Mr. Spota said the entire fund will be forfeited and monies will be returned following the November 11 election to parties seeking a return on their contribution. The rest will be given to charity.
“There is no question that while the investigation revealed serious issues with regard to fundraising and the manner in which it was conducted, including the use of public resources, I am confident that Mr. Levy did not personally profit,” Mr. Spota said. “The forfeiture of his $4 million campaign fund demonstrates his acceptance of responsibility for these failings.”
Mr. Spota said there will be no further investigation into Mr. Levy’s conduct and he “will allow Mr. Levy to complete his term was carefully considered and involved weighing his conduct, the need for stability in government in these difficult economic times while affording a smooth transition after the 2011 elections.”
Locally, county Legislator Ed Romaine (R-Center Moriches), a longtime political rival of Mr. Levy’s, said Thursday’s news that the county executive would not square off with likely challenger Steve Bellone (D-Babylon) in November came as a surprise.
“I was surprised and shocked, but Steve Levy has always accepted responsibility for his actions,” Mr. Romaine said. “I wish him well in his future endeavors.”
Mr. Bellone, the Babylon Town Supervisor since 2002, is the current favorite to earn the Democratic nomination. Mr. Bellone said he was “seriously considering running for county executive” against Mr. Levy during a countywide “listening tour” stop in Riverhead last week.
“Today’s news is indeed surprising and concerning,” Mr. Bellone said in a statement Thursday. “But the challenges and opportunities facing us are greater than any one person and I am confident Suffolk County will grow and thrive with new leadership.”
Suffolk County Democratic Chairman Richard Schaffer said Mr. Levy’s decision not to run opens the door for the Democrats’ return to the County Executive’s office.
“I am shocked by today’s announcement that the County Executive will not run for re-election and that he has forfeited his $4 million campaign fund,” Mr. Schaffer said. “I remain as confident as ever that in November we will have a terrific new County Executive, Steve Bellone.”