Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy poses in Albany, N.Y., on Monday, March 8, 2010. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
Suffolk's county executive said Thursday he will not seek a third term as he turned over millions of dollars in campaign funds to the district attorney following a 16-month investigation.
Steve Levy, who unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2010, made the stunning announcement Thursday afternoon in a press release.
Levy pointed to a desire to "tackle other challenges;" but moments after his political intentions were made public, Suffolk County's district attorney confirmed that Levy had been the focus of a corruption probe.
That probe had centered on the county executive's fundraising practices, according to a statement from DA Thomas Spota.
"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," said Spota.
To resolve the investigation, Spota's statement explained, the county executive would forfeit his $4 million campaign fund.
The money would be turned over to the district attorney's office.
"The campaign money will be distributed to those individuals who request that it be returned. The remainder will be donated to charity," the district attorney's statement said.
The county executive had met with investigators on multiple occasions and provided information relevant to the inquiry, Spota said.
Levy's announcement did not directly mention the investigation. The only reference to fundraising issues came toward the end of the county executive's statement.
"Questions have been raised concerning fundraising through my political campaign. Since this occurred under my watch I accept responsibility," said Levy.
Just last year, Levy switched his political party affiliation from Democrat to Republican and sought the GOP's nomination for governor.
He had given no indication he was preparing to "tackle other challenges." In fact, since the start of the year, Levy had flooded local TV airwaves with commercials touting his political accomplishments.
Although the DA's statement did not detail his specific findings, Spota did indicate he considered seeking Levy's resignation.
"The decision to 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," the statement said.
"You can be assured that if I believed that his actions compromised his ability to govern," it added, "I would have sought his resignation."