From the NY Post
Gov. Spitzer Wednesday afternoon told an upstate TV station that Communications Director Darren Dopp - front and center in the "Dirty Tricks" scandal that's embroiled the administration for nearly two months now - "didn't violate any rule or any law, any ethical obligation that we are aware of."
No "ethical obligation that we are aware of?"
OK. So, if that's the case, why did Spitzer suspend Dopp from the state payroll?
The governor ordered the suspension after Attorney General Andrew Cuomo confirmed in detail the reporting of Post State Editor Fredric U. Dicker on Dopp's role in the bungled smear of state Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno. To wit, Dopp and Bill Howard, assistant Homeland Security secretary, recruited acting State Police superintendent Preston Felton into a plan to embarrass Bruno.
True, the Cuomo report didn't declare that a crime had been committed. But that may have been because Cuomo lacked the power to question Dopp (or other key aides such as Spitzer chief of staff Richard Baum) under oath.
On top of that, Spitzer's deputy chief of staff, Sean Patrick Maloney, and policy director, Peter Pope, were designated as "special counsels" - whereupon lawyer-client privilege shielded them from Cuomo's questioning.
As a result, Cuomo was unable to learn exactly how far up the chain of command this apparent conspiracy went - into the governor's office, for example.
Even so, following the release of Cuomo's report, a supposedly outraged Spitzer suspended Dopp indefinitely.
"Indefinitely" ended Monday: Dopp's $175,000 salary was restored just before he is to testify before the State Ethics Commission - and while Albany County DA David Soares is continuing his own investigation of the matter.
Spitzer's newfound support for Dopp - during the same interview, he declared that the suspension was "arguably too severe" - sure looks like another signal to Dopp to stay loyal to the governor as the multiple probes continue.
Even more troubling, frankly, is the prospect that Spitzer is actually telling the truth - that is, that he sees no ethical transgressions in Dopp's conduct.
Not to wear out the facts, but Dopp did sic the State Police on his boss's most bitter political enemy - nobody is disputing that, after all.
If Spitzer really doesn't see the ethical issues raised by this entire affair, then maybe he truly is beyond help.
Either way, it remains that Eliot Spitzer was handed a resounding mandate to reform the politics and government of the Empire State - and he squandered it in the blink of an eye.
And it seems that he hasn't noticed.