Dommission Faults ‘Troopergate' Probe

The commission called for merging two of the investigating agencies

The five investigations of "Troopergate" the Spitzer administration disclosures of state aircraft use by rival politician Sen. Joseph Bruno  were "piecemeal" and "duplicative," wasting taxpayer money, according to the state Investigation Commission.
In a report Thursday, the commission called for merging two of the investigating agencies, the state Inspector General's Office and the state Commission on Public Integrity, into the Investigation Commission itself.
"The Commission believes that consolidating ... will not only save New York state money during these difficult economic times, but will allow government investigation, particularly concerning investigation of state government and its employees, to operate more efficiently and effectively," the report said.
The Investigation Commission faulted the probes by the other two agencies, as well as the state attorney general, Albany County district attorney and state Senate Investigations and Government Operations Committee, saying each lacked "sufficient jurisdiction" to do a thorough investigation into all the issues.
"This caused lengthy delays in concluding the entire matter, unnecessarily burdening taxpayers with duplicative investigations,and causing them to lose confidence in the state's ability to police itself," the report said.
The issue surfaced with 2007 newspaper reports that then-Senate Republican Majority Leader Joseph Bruno rode state aircraft to attend political functions. Bruno claimed then-Gov. Eliot Spitzerput him under special police surveillance to discredit him and that his trips also involved state business. He called for investigations into whether Spitzer abused his office.
The attorney general and inspector general investigated and concluded no crimes were committed, but the attorney general said three Spitzer aides acted inappropriately in releasing travel records.
The district attorney initially found no crimes but some inconsistent statements. The Senate Investigations Committee held hearings but never released any findings. The Public Integrity Commission concluded four Spitzer aides caused state police to gather records beyond their normal official business and that one aide may have given a false statement.
The commission then consulted the district attorney.
District Attorney David Soares issued a second report that the aide, who lost his job, may have committed two misdemeanors, but a successful prosecution of former Spitzer Communications Director Darren Dopp was "highly unlikely."

Spitzer resigned in early 2008 amid a prostitution scandal. Bruno didn't seek re-election in the fall. Republicans lost majority control of the Senate.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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