Shuffling the Deck in Spitzerland

Here’s a bit more reshuffling from Eliot Spitzer, who, earlier today, named a new interim communications director.

Spitzer announced that his commissioner for the Division of Criminal Justice Services, Denise O’Donnell, will now also serve as Assistant Secretary for Criminal Justice.

O’Donnell is filling the vacancy created by LaiSun Yee’s departure as Assistant Secretary.

Yee left her post “to become the Assistant Secretary for Homeland Security, filling the vacancy created by
William Howard’s reassignment out of the Governor's Office.”

Howard, if you didn’t know, popped up in an unflattering role in the Andrew Cuomo report detailing the efforts by Spitzer aides to gin up a public scandal involving Senator Majority Leader Joe Bruno.

Spitzer said he moved O’Donnell because “It is critical that we take immediate and direct action to restore public confidence in one of our most important government functions.”

Here is the statement from Spitzer's office:

Governor Eliot Spitzer today announced the appointment of Commissioner
Denise O’Donnell to serve as Assistant Secretary for Criminal Justice.
Ms. O’Donnell will oversee the government's key public safety and criminal
justice agencies, including the State Police, the Department of
Corrections, and the Division of Parole. She will also continue to oversee
the operations of the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), which
serves as a planning and analysis office for all of the criminal justice
agencies.

The appointment is a result of the Governor’s reorganization of his
administration’s public safety division, which includes both criminal
justice and public safety portfolios.

“It is critical that we take immediate and direct action to restore public
confidence in one of our most important government functions,” said
Governor Spitzer. “Denise’s unquestioned integrity, superb judgment and
broad experience will help ensure our criminal justice and public safety
agenda moves forward insulated from politics and with the highest standards
of accountability. Her unique background at DCJS, as U.S. Attorney, and
currently as Chair of the NYS Commission on Sentencing Reform makes her
uniquely qualified to join Deputy Secretary Michael Balboni and help guide
the state's public safety agenda.”

Deputy Secretary for Public Safety Michael Balboni said “Ms. O’Donnell’s
appointment demonstrates a serious commitment to professionalism and
accountability. Her breadth of experience and knowledge of proper law
enforcement protocols will serve the public well.”

Ms. O'Donnell currently serves as Commissioner of the Department of
Criminal Justice Services, a post she has held since January 2007. In that
capacity, she serves as chair of the NYS Commission on Sentencing Reform,
which was created by Executive Order 10 earlier this year to examine
current criminal sentencing practices and to make recommendations for
change. Previously, Ms. O’Donnell served as United States Attorney for the
Western District of New York from 1997 to 2001. During that time, she was
Vice-Chair of the New York State Attorney General's Advisory Committee in
Washington, D.C. from 2000 to 2001. She also served as First Assistant
United States Attorney from 1993 to 1997. Ms. O'Donnell played a key role
in the investigation of Timothy McVeigh for the bombing of the Federal
Building in Oklahoma City and in the prosecution of James Kopp for the
murder of Dr. Barnett Slepian, a provider of reproductive services. Prior
to joining the Spitzer administration, Ms. O’Donnell was a Partner at
Hodgson Russ LLP and ran for New York State Attorney General. She received
her B.S. from Canisius College and both her M.S.W. and J.D. from SUNY at
Buffalo.

Ms. O’Donnell will succeed LaiSun Yee, who will move over to become the
Assistant Secretary for Homeland Security, filling the vacancy created by
William Howard’s reassignment out of the Governor's Office.

Before joining the administration, Ms. Yee served as General Counsel in the
Office of the Bronx Borough President since 2006. Previously, Ms. Yee
served as General Counsel in the New York State Emergency Management
Office, where she advised the Director, the Governor's staff, and local
emergency officials on state emergency laws and federal disaster statutes.
From 2001 to 2004, Ms. Yee was Deputy Commissioner for Legal Services and
General Counsel in the New York City Mayor's Office of Emergency
Management. Ms. Yee also served in the New York City Fire Department from
1992 to 2001. While there, she served in a number of capacities, including
Assistant Fire Commissioner in the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity,
Assistant Fire Commissioner in the Bureau of Investigations and Trials and
as an Attorney in the Bureau of Legal Affairs. Ms. Yee received both her
B.A. and J.D. from Cornell University, and an M.A. from the Naval
Postgraduate School.