NY Senate Snubbed by Gov's Ex-Aide

October 22, 2007 2:24 PM EDT


ALBANY, N.Y. - Gov. Eliot Spitzer's former communications director refused Monday to obey a subpoena for testimony and documents sought by a state Senate committee investigating allegations of a plot to smear the state's top Republican.


Former aide Darren Dopp could face a misdemeanor charge of contempt of the Legislature, said Sen. George Winner, chairman of the Senate investigations committee.


"So much for 'full cooperation,'" Winner said. "The governor clearly told him not to provide any information and assert certain privileges and he said, 'Yes, sir.'"


Winner added, "We reminded everyone on the record of the provisions of the penal law involved in contempt of the Legislature."


Attorney General Andrew Cuomo reported in July that Dopp and at least one other top aide to the Democratic governor used state police to compile reports on travel by Senate Republican leader Joseph Bruno. The data tracked Bruno's use of state aircraft and a state police driver on days he attended Republican fundraisers after meeting with lobbyists. The travel records were provided to a newspaper reporter who had requested them.


The case is being investigated by Winner's committee and the state Public Integrity Commission. The case was investigated earlier by two Democrats: Cuomo, who faulted Spitzer's aides for misconduct but said no crime had been committed; and Albany County District Attorney P. David Soares, who found no wrongdoing and no plot to smear Bruno.


There was no immediate comment from the governor's office.


Terence Kindlon, Dopp's lawyer, said he was advised by a lawyer for the governor that the information Dopp had about the executive chamber was privileged.


"We are happy to testify and it's not our privilege that we're concerned about, it's the governor's privilege that we were asked to honor," Kindlon said.


He said a state judge should determine whether the information is privileged, and his client would comply with that decision. Kindlon said he will try to bring the issue to a state Supreme Court judge in Albany who is to consider early next month whether the governor is protected from the Senate's subpoenas.


Of a possible contempt charge, Winner said the committee's next step will be "either to enforce this on our own, or fold it into other litigation that's going on with the governor's office."


Spitzer is fighting the Senate committee's subpoenas, and has said the hearings are politically motivated, but says he is fully cooperating with the Public Integrity Commission probe.


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