Now a Part of the Story, Odato Stays Put

The Times Union has no plans to move reporter Jim Odato from his post, despite the fact that he's now part of a story that the rest of the Capitol reporting corps is covering. But they have taken him off "Troopergate."

On Friday, the Times Union reported that Odato was subpoenaed by the state Ethics Commission in their probe over whether Eliot Spitzer's top aides inappropriately used state police to discredit Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno.

Odato had helped spark the whole controversy with his article about Joe Bruno showing the state senator some attended legislative meetings and several fund-raisers by state aircraft.

To write the story, Odato submitted two FOIL requests to Eliot Spitzer's office, which asked the state police — in that order, ostensibly — to create the travel records. Later, when asked, Spitzer said his office had nothing to do with generating the story, but was merely responding to a reporter's request for information.

But according to Andrew Cuomo's investigation, "the Governor's Office was acting pursuant to a plan, which preceded any FOIL request."

In the article announcing Odato's subpoena, the general counsel for the paper's parent company said they would "aggressively resist it to protect the right of journalists."

As for Odato, an award-winning journalist, he's still working away in the Capitol.

The managing editor for the Times Union, Mary Fran Gleason, explained in an email to me:

"Jim has not been reassigned. However, he is not reporting on matters directly relating to Troopergate. That decision was made following the Attorney General's report which cited Jim specifically. Jim, however, is still reporting on travel by state officials, including Sen. Bruno."

 

UPDATE: The state Ethics Commission is backing off Odato and no longer is requiring him to testify, according to his paper.