Comptroller candidates spar

Maragos, Weitzman clash over county finances


County Comptroller candidates George Maragos and Howard Weitzman have been sniping each other back and forth through press releases and conferences over the last few weeks.

Their spat began when Weitzman, the Democratic challenger for Maragos’s position and former County Comptroller, filed a complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Sept. 16 that called for an investigation of the county’s finances, saying that Maragos had been “cooking the books” to make the county’s finances appear better than they actually are.

Weitzman claimed that Maragos and others worked to seek a court order to defer $88 million in property tax refunds until after the election, turning what would have been a $45 million deficit in the county’s budget into a $41 million surplus, and making the Republicans look better in the process.

A week later, Maragos responded by having the County Attorney’s office, represented by a securities attorney, warn Weitzman to stop making “baseless allegations” about the county.

“The former comptroller’s allegations are false, irresponsible and potentially harmful to the county and all taxpayers,” Maragos said in a release. “The county’s audited financial statements comply with all generally accepted accounting principles and accurately reflect the sound financial condition of the county.”

Two days later, on Sept. 26, Weitzman struck back in kind, holding a press conference denouncing Maragos for using the County Attorney to send a letter threatening a lawsuit.

“It is a new low for Mr. Maragos to use taxpayer dollars to hire an attorney to threaten his political opposition,” Weitzman said in a release.

Maragos’s letter said that Weitzman’s claims could harm the county’s ability to obtain financing in the future.

Weitzman’s council wrote back to Maragos’s outside counsel, saying that they would fight back if Maragos were to “commence a frivolous lawsuit against Mr. Weitzman.”