I imagine quite a bit of backslapping going on at the Public Integrity Commission today over the Dopp debacle. Well maybe just Barry Ginsberg slapping his own back and chortling like Patrick the starfish in Spongebob Squarepants, but when you’ve had as many failures as Barry has had you have to enjoy the little victories. And not to make lemons out of his lemonade but I’ve got a couple of questions I’d love someone to answer for me.
As I understand it Mr. Dopp was fined $10,000 (a fine by the way I would advise he never pay, imagine how much fun it would be to talk to the folks at the Attorney General’s office about that settlement) for, as Mr. Ginsberg put it, "This case was never about the release of public documents. Rather, this case stands for the critically important principle that the State Code of Ethics bars a State official from misusing the State Police to gather damaging information and create official-looking documents to plant a negative news story about a political opponent. Our free and democratic society simply does not, and cannot, condone such abuse of a law enforcement agency."
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/dailypolitics/2010/07/commission-on-public-integrity.html?obref=obnetwork#ixzz0tV4RuJ00
Yet a careful reading of the hearing transcripts shows no evidence that Mr. Dopp gathered damaging information or created any documents. I’m guessing that would have been Preston Felton whom the commission fined the whopping sum of $0. Nor did Mr. Dopp instruct anyone to do that. I’m guessing that’s what Bill Howard was fined the whopping sum of $0. So Mr. Dopp must have planted a negative news story, the same type of behavior that the commission determined was not a violation in the Caroline Kennedy leak case, good thing Mr. Dopp had already left or they could have blamed him and doubled the fine.
The other problem with fining Mr. Dopp for the story being in the Times Union is that reporter Jim Odato never said he got it from Dopp. In fact Odato was never even interviewed under oath or otherwise. He was subpoenaed, but the commission decided not to enforce it, I guess it was safer not to find out how Odato got the story. And by the way, why is it a negative story? I thought it was a positive story from the point of view of a reader. I like finding out how our state resources are being misused.
You know what else is a positive story? The one the Inspector General told about disgraced former commission Executive Director Herb Teitelbaum leaking information about this investigation to people close to disgraced former governor Eliot Spitzer, you know the guy that had the political opponent Ginsburg is talking about. Why was Spitzer never fined for his role in this farce? And why didn’t the commission investigate the leak? Maybe Herb wasn’t the only one talking to the Spitzer folks.
Come to think about it isn’t Spitzer the only one to benefit from the “negative” story that was never proven to be “planted” using documents that Dopp never created from information that Dopp never gathered? Good thing Dopp never did any of those things or Ginsberg could really have hurt himself using both hands to slap his own back.
You can’t make this stuff up. And if you did no one would believe you.