Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Cuomo’s Sandy Berger Problem

Back in 2006, a senior Clinton administration official went to the National Archives. This official proceeded to rip pages out of certain classified reports and stuff them down his pants. He did this on several occasions and was ultimately caught and convicted of a misdemeanor charge.

The official, Sandy Berger, acknowledged that he was doing this on behalf of the President, a fact that was spelled out in detail in a subsequent Congressional report.

The question now is whether the Cuomo administration has a Sandy Berger or two in its midst? Why, after all, were Linda Lacewell and Josh Vlasto spending hours in the State Archives and removing documents from public view?

Now the parallels here aren’t exact. Berger was actually destroying government records, whereas the Cuomo minions apparently were trying to keep them from public view. But the core conduct is the same: Government officials are trying to hide something.

Some explanation is in order here: Supposedly the Times Union stumbled over a memo written by Lacewell a few days after the original Troopergate report came out in July of 2007. The Lacewell memo reportedly cites things that were left out of the AG’s report – including some tidbits that might have changed the way people looked at Joe Bruno. Remember that Cuomo’s report gave Bruno a pass for his use of the state airplane and slammed the Spitzer people for releasing travel information.

The question now is will Governor Cuomo take a page from President Clinton’s playbook and sacrifice the offending minions to avert a potential Watergate type scandal or will he tough it out and hope that the documents removed never surface and if they do they are not damning?

And that calculation is wholly dependent on what documents Ms. Lovelace and Mr. Vlasto removed from the archives.

Now this isn’t my fight, I’ve got no horse in this race other than the fact that I truly believe Andrew Cuomo is the finest New York political leader I have ever been witness to.  And it is with that thought in mind and the fervent hope, as I have said in the past, that he does not get tripped up by an ethics scandal that I offer the following unsolicited advice.

If it’s just a bunch of schedules and memos about web traffic, tough it out.  It will just be chalked up as more Cuomo control over information stories, with a sidebar about how the Times Union and New York Times are making a mountain out of a molehill.

But if there is a memo detailing the fact that the original Troopergate report (written by Biben and Lacewell) was tailored to exonerate Bruno’s use of the state helicopter and focus attention on Spitzer’s spying by omitting key facts about Bruno’s actual improper use of those state helicopters then Governor Cuomo should act swiftly to fire both Lacewell and Biben.

Now of course if we had a real ethics panel in place they could do a thorough investigation of this matter.

But there’s no way Ellen Biben is going to touch this one. She’d be investigating herself and her former partner Lacewell. Fat chance.

This is yet another example of what a do-nothing joke JJOKE has become. It’s also further evidence of why Biben is wrong for the job.

As an aside I always wondered why John Milgram had then AG Cuomo call me in August of 2007 to try to get me to retract the statements I made in this story

Could it be related to that mystery memo that Jim Odato has?

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