MAY 14, 2009
New York’s highly touted ethics commission repeatedly violated state law by regularly leaking confidential information about an investigation into former Governor Eliot Spitzer’s administration to one of his top aides.
Under state law details of inquiries conducted by the 13-member panel (Commission on Public Integrity) must be secret until they are completed. Not only did the commission’s director leak sensitive information about the probe to the disgraced former governor, who resigned after a prostitution scandal, the commission failed to investigate the leaks when presented with evidence of them.
This certainly seems to defeat the purpose of the heavily promoted commission, which ironically was created by Spitzer in 2007 to help restore much-needed ethics to a state capital infested with rampant corruption allegations, scandals and criminal indictments. The commission’s unethical practices were made public this week by the New York Inspector General.
In a scathing 200-page report, the inspector general reveals that the ethics commission director, Herbert Teitelbaum, exchanged more than 160 phone calls and had numerous dinner meetings with a member of Spitzer’s cabinet during a 2007 investigation into the administration’s misuse of state police to gather information about a political rival.
The inspector general’s report says that, during the dinners and phone conversations, Teitelbaum informed the Spitzer aide of his panel’s investigation—and its potentially politically damaging consequences—and offered extensive data of the probe which was initiated after the attorney general found wrongdoing by the Spitzer administration.
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