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New York governor's aides face possible ethics probe

July 27, 2007|From Newsday

ALBANY, N.Y. — Gov. Eliot Spitzer on Thursday faced the prospect of new inquiries into his aides' monitoring of state Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, with the state Ethics Commission joining the Senate in requesting documents from a recently closed investigation by the attorney general.

In a combative news conference, Spitzer denied that his administration had hindered the attorney general's probe.

His secretary, Richard Baum, and communications director, Darren Dopp, balked at being interviewed. They submitted brief sworn statements Sunday.

In a scathing report, the attorney general's office found that Dopp and fellow aide William Howard misused the State Police to collect information on Bruno's trips to Manhattan for political fundraisers, along with legislative business. The pair allegedly hoped to orchestrate negative publicity about Bruno, a Republican who is the Democratic governor's chief rival.

Their refusal to be interviewed, Spitzer acknowledged, could raise questions. But he said he wasn't involved in deciding how to comply with the demands of Atty. Gen. Andrew Cuomo's office, and wouldn't "second-guess" motives.

"We provided on a voluntary basis an enormous amount of information, in terms of individuals, in terms of documents that was turned over to the attorney general's office," Spitzer said. "They determined there was no violation of law and hence there was no need for further inquiry."

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