August 31, 2007

Spitzer's Ethics Amnesia

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.


Vintage said...

"Didn't violate... any ethical obligation that we are aware of."

That says it all. They should get aware of it.

Not all ethical obligations are written down in policy handbooks.

Could it be that the powers-that-be just didn't comprehend the fact there exists an ethical obligation to not use state resources to hurt political opponents? I hope that's not the case and I'm hoping the Governor is better than that.

downpour said...

Since when must ethical behavior (like doing the right thing...) be spelled out or otherwise OBLIGATED by law. Ethical behavior need not be spelled out in law, it's much simpler....Spitzer should put them out to pasture and move on for the sake of his platform. I'm sure they can be recommended for private sector employment.....Otherwise, it's apparent to me that Spitzer knew more about the nonsense that he's led us to believe and he needs to secure the tight lips campaign. If so, the beginning of the end of a shallow term in office could be marked by this incident.

Get clear and move on to the Albany reform agenda....if that's the true objective.

becky said...

he should look to barker for guidance...larock's mentoring is paying off...

BARKER — A construction worker told authorities his iPod was stolen from a classroom at Barker High School on Friday afternoon.

The $300 device had been left in the room while the worker went on a lunch break, Niagara County sheriff’s deputies said. The iPod was gone when he arrived back 30 minutes later.