Friday, August 10, 2007

Spitzer hearing reveals little

The New York state Senate hearing into what is being dubbed "Troopergate" or "Choppergate" (there seems to be a war of coinage going on) was apparently riveting political theater, but didn't turn up much in the end.

The most notable bit of information to emerge was details of two investigations, one conducted by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and the other by Inspector General Kristine Harmann. The former was hampered by the AG's inability to subpoena two key aides in the scandal, Richard Baum and Darren Dopp, because Harmann was investigating and never formally turned over control of the probe to Cuomo. But Harmann's probe was halted after it led to Baum, to whom the IG reports. Instead, the IG's information was folded into the AG's report, which relied on voluntary statements from the pair.

That's inadequate. While Cuomo was comfortable drawing a conclusion that no criminality was involved (and an aide testified that subpoenas would not have changed the verdict), it's important in a case like this to avoid even the appearance of a coverup or a whitewash. Any investigation should be full, complete and public.

It's probably not necessary to have Cuomo or Harmann reinvestigate, however, given that there are currently two other probes in the works: one by the local DA, the other by the state Commission on Investigation, which handles inquiries into corruption, fraud and the conduct of government officials. Both probes will have subpoena power. Assuming they are conducted properly, they should provide the answers the first two investigations have not.

Meanwhile, we wait. And so should senate Republicans.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

IMO, the Democrats have always circled-the-wagons and defended their own much better than Republicans do. Compare this to the Gonzales case. There's far more wrong-doing here, but Dems like Cuomo are STILL willing to basically say, "just close the books; no big deal."


8/10/2007 7:55 PM  

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