N.Y. Insurance Chief Mills Told to Halt Political Fundraising

New York Gov. George Pataki said his $127,000-a-year state insurance superintendent, Howard Mills, who lost the 2004 U.S. Senate race, has been called on the carpet for continuing his personal political fundraising even while on the state payroll.

“We don’t believe that people in appointive office, commissioners or others working for the state should be in a position of raising those funds, period,” the Republican governor told a state Capitol news conference.

The governor’s comments came in wake of a report in last Friday’s editions of The New York Times that Mills had accepted $15,000 in campaign contributions last year even though he is not running for office.

Mills, a former Republican state assemblyman from Orange County, continues to use his old Assembly campaign account to pay for meals, flowers and other expenses, including car payments on a Chrysler 300, the Times reported. Mills lost the 2004 Senate race in a landslide to Democratic incumbent Charles Schumer.

After the election, Pataki named Mills state insurance superintendent.

Asked whether such fundraising was appropriate for an appointed state official, Pataki said: “No. We’ve made that plain to him.”

“We are in discussions with him,” Pataki said when asked if Mills had been ordered to return the campaign contributions.

Mills had told the Times that while he didn’t expect to run for public office again before 2008, he did plan to do so someday.

“It is absolutely necessary that I maintain my profile,” Mills had told the newspaper. He said all the expenditures were made legally for political, not personal, purposes.