Government Law

N.Y. AG: Governor's Office, Police in Plot

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Updated: Top aides to New York’s Democratic governor have been suspended or reassigned, and Gov. Eliot Spitzer has apologized, in the wake of a scathing report by the state’s attorney general finding that Spitzer aides and state police conspired against the state senate’s Republican majority leader.

“No one was accused of breaking the law,” as the Associated Press puts it, “but the report found that policies designed to protect public officials’ safety were broken for political gain.”

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s report (PDF), which was made public yesterday, recommended that disciplinary action be considered for the acting state police superintendent. However, none was taken, says the New York Post. The state police and Spitzer’s communications director and assistant secretary for homeland security allegedly conspired against Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno “by cooking up a plot claiming he misused state aircraft,” according to the Post.

As the man in charge of New York state government, Spitzer apologized for what the Post described as a campaign by his aides “us[ing] the State Police as, in effect, a spy agency as part of a broad conspiracy aimed at destroying Bruno.” However, the governor said—and several of his senior aides confirmed, in interviews with Cuomo—that he had no knowledge of the plot at the time it was ongoing. Spitzer was himself state attorney general until he was elected governor in a landslide vote last year on a campaign platform of ethics reform in state government.

“There was no surveillance, there were no laws broken,” Spitzer said yesterday at the state capitol, reports the New York Law Journal. “But that is not the standard that I embrace. The standard that I embrace is, ‘Do the judgments made reflect the sorts of values and ethics that I intend on bringing to this administration?’”

Republican lawmakers are now calling for hearings to determine whether Spitzer may have played any role in the attack on Bruno, reports Bloomberg.

“Did the governor know about it? I find it very hard to believe, based on his management style, that the governor didn’t know about it,” says Sen. Dean Skelos, a Nassau County Republican. “This has just been a blatant abuse of the state police that we’ve never seen before.”

(Originally posted at 2:22 p.m.)

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