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Spitzer Lied About Role In Bruno Smear Plot

by on March 29, 2008

It appears now that disgraced former governor Eliot Spitzer played a much bigger role in the plot to smear Senate Majority Leader Bruno than previously thought

Former Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer lied to prosecutors about what turned out to be his major role in a campaign to smear a political rival, but the Albany County district attorney said he will not pursue any criminal charges against the already- disgraced ex-governor.

Spitzer had full knowledge of the effort to discredit Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno last summer and, in a profanity-filled tirade, directed the release of State Police travel records of the State Legislature’s top Republican following a breakdown in negotiations between the two men at the end of the 2007 legislative session.

More than a month after telling aides not to release information or investigate Bruno’s use of state aircraft between Albany and Manhattan, Spitzer then angrily dismissed an aide who raised warnings angering Bruno. Calling Bruno a “piece of [expletive],” Spitzer added, “Shove it up his [expletive] with a red hot poker.” The aide, former communications adviser Darren Dopp, described Spitzer to prosecutors as “spitting mad.”

Despite this new information, District Attorney Soares says there will not be any criminal charges because Spitzer has already resigned from office. Senate Republicans are justifiably angry.

But Senate Republicans lashed out at Soares, charging he sat on information that Spitzer had lied to him about his role and failed to pursue before a grand jury the role of other top Spitzer advisers in the matter. They noted that Soares only last September cleared Spitzer, saying he had no knowledge of the smear effort against Bruno, and that Soares never interviewed Spitzer or other top aides under oath before a grand jury.

“Soares botched this thing so badly that it is amazing. Here he has knowledge — that the governor lied to him and he did nothing,” said Sen. George Winner, R-Elmira, who is heading a separate Senate investigation into the affair. He criticized Soares for not delving more into the role of the State Police and whether top Spitzer aides coerced Dopp into signing a document he submitted to the attorney general last summer about the campaign.

Soares may not want to kick Spitzer any more when he’s already down, but anyone following this story knew what was going on, and one has to wonder if this revelation would have been kept quiet had Spitzer not already fallen from grace as a result of his prostitution scandal. Bruno accuses Soares of botching the investigation as a “cover” for Spitzer.

Spitzer’s office has been under a dark ethical cloud for quite a long time before the sex scandal erupted, it surprised me he wasn’t forced out of office quite a long time ago. Perhaps that’s why he resigned after the sex scandal erupted. With Soares covering for him in the DA’s office, other serious charges against him may not ever be pursued.

UPDATE: Soares outlines “TrooperGate” investigation

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