Spitzer aide cleared in Bruno plot

The top aide who former Gov. Eliot Spitzer blamed and disciplined for a plot to smear Senate Republi

The top aide who former Gov. Eliot Spitzer blamed and disciplined for a plot to smear Senate Republican leader Joseph Bruno won’t face criminal charges in the scandal, according to the ex-aide’s attorney.

The former aide, Darren Dopp, was Spitzer’s communications director in the governor’s office and for two terms in the attorney general’s office. Dopp has said he was following orders and the law when he compiled and disclosed to a reporter state police travel records concerning Bruno when he used state aircraft on days he attended Republican fund-raisers.

“The district attorney and I met today in person,” said Dopp’s attorney, Michael Koenig of Albany, on Monday. “He advised me that all matters between his office and my client are now concluded.”

A spokeswoman for Albany County District Attorney P. David Soares, Heather Orth, wouldn’t comment. She said the investigation is expected to be complete this week.

Spitzer’s spokeswoman, Anna Cordasco of the public relations firm of Sard Virbinnen & Co., wouldn’t comment.

Spitzer resigned March 12 after being linked to a prostitution ring. That unrelated investigation came as his popularity was dragged down following the state aircraft scandal, which Bruno claimed was political espionage by Spitzer using state police.

In July, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, concluded Dopp and another aide, William Howard, committed no crime, but engaged in misconduct by plotting to discredit Bruno.

In September, Soares also concluded the aides didn’t commit any crime, but he disagreed with Cuomo, saying there was no evidence of a plot against Bruno. Soares, however, took another look at Dopp’s testimony after there appeared to have been conflicts between what Dopp told Soares and what he told the state Public Integrity Commission in its continuing investigation.

Koenig’s statement on Monday came as a published report stated that, contrary to Spitzer’s public comments, the former governor directed and pushed Dopp to compile the travel data about Bruno. The New York Times, citing unnamed sources, reported Monday that Spitzer ordered Dopp and another aide to release the travel data from state police.

In July, when the scandal broke, Spitzer apologized for what he called overzealous conduct by his two aides. The former governor suspended Dopp and transferred and demoted Howard. Dopp eventually left the executive chamber, while Spitzer insisted he had only cursory knowledge of the effort to compile the travel records.

Koenig wouldn’t reveal Dopp’s testimony about what the Democratic former governor knew about the effort against Bruno. Dopp spoke to Soares after he was granted immunity.

“I was not going to allow Darren to get involved in the cross hairs of a politically charged investigation,” Koenig said. He said Dopp’s statements had to be truthful, based on documents and other witness accounts, in exchange for immunity.

Categories: Schenectady County

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