Separation of Powers

GOP Sets Stage for Spitzer Probe

Two top aides to New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer have refused to be interviewed in an investigation of an attempt by his office to gather negative information about a political rival.

Republicans highlighted the refusal to cooperate as they were setting the stage for a probe that could lead to subpoenas of top officials, the New York Times reports.

The rising controversy follows release of a report by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo concluding that the governor’s office used state police to gather information about Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno. Spitzer has apologized, while maintaining he knew nothing of the plot, and two of his top aides resigned. (See this post for more details.)

A Spitzer spokeswoman maintains the State Senate has no constitutional authority to hold hearings into the internal operations of the governor’s office.

Experts told the New York Times in a separate story that it’s unclear how courts would resolve a constitutional standoff between the governor and the legislature. Generally courts have upheld executive privilege claims when disclosure of information could harm the public interest.

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