New York’s attorney general issued a report Monday recommending disciplinary action be considered against Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s office for releasing information about a top legislator’s use of a state aircraft.
“The governor’s office planned to obtain information concerning Senator (Joseph) Bruno’s use of state aircraft for the purpose of giving this information to the media,” Attorney General Andrew Cuomo wrote in his report on the scandal.
Bruno, the Senate majority leader, had accused Spitzer’s office of political espionage.
Spitzer, nationally known for forcing reforms on Wall Street during his eight years as the state’s attorney general, had no immediate comment Monday.
Governor accused of spying
The simmering conflict between the Democratic governor and the Republican Senate leader boiled over in early July after the Times Union of Albany reported that Bruno had been using state aircraft to attend fundraisers in Manhattan. Bruno blamed Spitzer for releasing the records and accused the governor of using state police to spy on him.
Cuomo’s investigation found that “under the pretext of responding to a Freedom of Information Law request, the governor’s liaison caused the acting superintendent of the state police to create documents detailing where the state police had driven Senator Bruno, and report details of Senator Bruno’s requests for ground transportation, upcoming schedules, and changes to those schedules.”
“This conduct deviated from state police standard operating procedures and past practices, and was not required” by the law, the report said.
'Permissive and porous' policy
The report found that Bruno’s use of the state aircraft had been appropriate under a policy that “is overly permissive and porous and allows for an abuse of taxpayer funds.”
“We find that Senator Bruno used state aircraft for trips during which he conducted both legislative business as well as political or personal business,” the report stated. “We further find that such mixed usage is permissible under existing New York state policy.”
Cuomo recommended that the acting superintendent of state police, the governor’s liaison to state police and Spitzer Communications Director Darren Dopp “should be evaluated in light of the findings contained in this report and appropriate disciplinary action should be considered.”
Bruno said his staff would review the report’s “disturbing conclusions” before commenting further.