In a very prescient quote two years ago to the U.S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, Spitzer, referring to his investigations during his term as Attorney General famously stated,
“…we have found that the lack of transparency, combined with inadequate disclosure and regulatory oversight, often leads to market fraud…This has led to a crisis of accountability.”
This quote could just as easily apply to him and his staff’s recent actions, since Spitzer’s lack of transparency on this issue has led to what looks like fraud resulting in a crisis of accountability.
Regarding transparency, the governor must answer several questions. First, why did his administration rebut attempts by Attorney General Cuomo to interview Baum and Dopp? Second, as reported in news outlets on Monday, why were two other senior advisers, previously appointed in policy positions, named as special counsel?
Does it have anything to do with the fact that as special counsel, they can refuse any subpoena to testify citing attorney-client privilege?
The governor and Baum have repeatedly refused any knowledge of their staff’s actions. However, in a quote to a Mid-Hudson Valley newspaper last year, a top staffer acknowledged that Baum, as “head of Eliot’s cabinet [in the Attorney General’s office]…nothing happened without his consultation.” This is troubling in two ways. If the governor and his chief of staff do not know what their employees are up to, how can we entrust responsible leadership of the state to them? If he did, what did he know and why is he covering it up?
In fact, as recently as last Thursday, both the disgraced former employees retained criminal counsel. If there is no criminal action, is there need for a criminal lawyer?
Governor Spitzer needs to get out in front of the investigations and release everything now, or he risks dying the death of a thousand cuts as this thing drags on forever. On the bright side, if there's enough bloodletting from both sides maybe we'll see some real ethics reform in state government.
I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for that to happen.