WXXI Local Stories
5:28 am
Wed August 15, 2007

Democrats Speak Out for Spitzer

Albany, New York – Democrats this week have begun standing up for Governor Eliot Spitzer, in the face of continued news stories and developments about the scandal that's become known as "troopergate".

In the days after the state's Attorney General issued a report that found two of Governor Spitzer's aides misused the state police to try to embarrass the Republican Senate Majority Leader, Joe Bruno, few Democrats spoke up in Spitzer's favor. Now, weeks after continuous news stories have raised concerns about whether the governor and his aides have answered all of the questions surrounding the incident, and even whether they even tried to cover up some of their actions, Democrats in the state have begun mobilizing.

The State Democratic Party has hired a public relations firm, and has begun distributing by e-mail any positive columns or editorials about the governor. In one release it called a recent Senate Republican hearing into the matter a "show trial" and "Act One of Saving Joe Bruno's Majority".

A number of Democratic Congressional members across the state have begun speaking out, decrying the media attention, and calling the Senate Republican's efforts to keep the story going a partisan "circus". Congressman Jerry Nadler even compared the situation to the Whitewater scandal that plagued President Bill Clinton, yet proved fruitless, and eventually angered the public.

A few Democratic state legislators have gotten into the act. Assemblyman Sam Hoyt of Buffalo and Senator David Valesky of Syracuse wrote an op-ed piece that appeared in some newspapers. Valesky says the article tried to remind people, that despite the distraction surrounding the scandal, Democrats and Republicans have been working together in Albany this year more successfully than they have for a long time, winning agreements on worker's compensation and civil confinement of some sexual predators, as well as finally resolving the long-running schools funding court case.

Valesky says in his central New York district, people don't really care about the political fighting surrounding the scandal, and would rather see lawmakers move on. He says he thinks a number of New Yorkers share that attitude.

"I'm not getting calls and letters and e-mails from my constituents wanting to talk about this 'gate' or that 'gate'," said Valesky, who said they are instead concerned with property tax reform, and high energy costs.

Despite their rather poor personal relationship, Governor Spitzer and Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno had reached tentative agreements on campaign finance reform, a new capital budget and other issues, before the Attorney General's report was released. Senate Republicans have said they don't feel they can return to business as usual at the Capitol until a number of questions they have surrounding "troopergate" are answered. They say they are likely to hold more hearings on the matter, like the one earlier this month that involved questioning a representative of the State Inspector General's office about discrepancies in their investigation.

Senator Valesky concedes that Senate Leader Bruno has a legitimate gripe against the Spitzer Administration over the improper use of the troopers, but he says everyone should stop speculating and wait until the state Ethics Commission, and the Albany County District Attorney have finished their investigations.

In the meantime, he says, he hopes the legislature can put this all behind them, return in September, and start working on policy issues again.