- Today's story in the NY Times which reveals that Eliot Spitzer, despite his specific denials, was not only aware of the efforts by his staff to use State Police travel records to smear Senator Bruno but was intimately involved (and, in fact, directed the effort), certainly is no surprise given recent events. The Paper of Record reports that when Darren Dopp, his communications director at the time, dared to question Spitzer as to the sagacity of the strategy:
The governor was so angry, Mr. Dopp recalled, that he turned red and spit out coffee he was sipping as he directed him to release the records immediately. “As he was saying it, he was spitting a little bit,” Mr. Dopp said. “He was spitting mad.” [NY Times](David Kurtz, at Talking Points Memo, notices a trend here.) Dopp's wife said she was struck by how often Mr. Spitzer called Mr. Dopp at home during that time. It was inconsistencies between a statement that Dopp now contends he was pressured to sign by Spitzer's staff and his subsequent testimony to the public integrity commission that prompted Albany DA David Soares to renew his investigation of the matter, and his new report is due this week.
I think it's fair at this point to question virtually everything that came out of Spitzer's mouth during his tenure. For our purposes, we can now wonder what really was his motivation in awarding the racing franchise to NYRA. I thought it was largely out of indifference and expediency....but really, who the hell knows? Maybe it got to the point where all of his decisions were based on little more than how often he could get laid? Indeed, it was on the franchise deadline day that he was planning his fateful rendezvous in DC that night. Or perhaps he was getting off from watching Jan Rushton handicap the early double, or from seeing Sam the Buglar's knee-high boots, and didn't want to risk another franchisee replacing them? Maybe he liked to play the background music from the NYRA simulcast show during his trysts?
And on a more serious note, though there have yet to be any accusations of financial corruption (other than his use of state money or aircraft to facilitate his meetings), I certainly couldn't argue with anyone who wanted to take a look at the Getnick and Getnick deal in a different light and consider possible conflicts of interest, whether financial or sexual.
As far as the new governor goes, we still don't have a clue as to his view of the racing industry or of the franchise agreement, as moot as the latter may be at this point. For one thing, Governor Paterson has been busy dealing with his own private matters, and, now, questions as to why he has thus far refused to authorize the release of emails related to Troopergate that Spitzer's staff had claimed executive privilege.
However, we have learned of a connection that an ancestor of his had to racing, courtesy of this article from Saratoga Today (and thanks to this reader who initially posted it, and this one, who correctly nudged me to mention it here on the main page). According to the story, Paterson's maternal great-grandfather was the blacksmith for Upset, and was rewarded for the horse's legendary win over Man O'War by owner H. P. Whitney with a house in Brooklyn, one in which the new governor lived at one time. The author speculates that the house "may well have been the conduit which provided opportunity for Basil Paterson, the Governor’s father to forge his own illustrious political career."
We also learn, via Wikipedia, that Governor Paterson is an avid sports fan (Mets, Jets, Knicks) who has been known to call in to WFAN, a major sports talk radio station in New York City. So perhaps there's hope that Paterson will take the sport seriously. Maybe he'll even be at the Wood instead of taking care of his woody.
- Not surprisingly, Senator Bruno has once again become a sympathetic figure thanks to his now deposed nemesis. A Siena poll reports that his favorable/unfavorable rating saw a big jump....from 23-38 in October to 32-32 in this poll. [Daily Politics blog]