Spitzer Tries to Move On, Doesn’t Quite

Eliot Spitzer says he isn’t trying to change the subject.

As the governor launched a major economic development tour this morning — in the thick of the dog days of summer, at the sixth floor of the Workforce1 building near the Apollo Theatre — that’s what he tried to argue to a group of reporters.

He wavered between promising not to say any more “on that stuff” to providing lengthy justifications for his decision to go “back to governing the state.”

Interestingly, he seemed to endorse the possibility of expanding the attorney general’s subpoena prior, without signing onto anything specific. And he concluded by promising that the scandal is “going to fade deep into the background.”

A rough transcript follows.

Q: These are all noble goals, but why launch a week-long campaign about this in the middle of August…”

A: This has nothing to do with that. This is, we’ve had. If you go back to the State of the State…as I did on Friday I think it was, Friday evening…to see whether or not we are actually matching the agenda and acting on the agenda that I articulated back on January 1 or January 3rd in that case, we are. And the point that I think we need to make is here are the priorities as we begin to set the agenda for not only continued legislative action but also administrative action…[OTDA, Labor, Health] These are enormous state agencies with very substantial allocations of tax dollars, and so what I’m trying to explain to the public what we are doing with them and why because there is a larger message here that is important for the public to understand.

Q: There’s another published report today that alleges that members of your staff were told not to cooperate with Attorney General Cuomo..
[Spitzer..Ah, Marcia, I'm simply]…How do you feel about that?

A: Marcia, I’m simply not saying anything more on that stuff. I’ve spoken and answered every question and been totally forthright, so now we’re back to governing the state.

Q: The attorney general says he wants more powers, more investigative powers, do you think he should get them?

A: I, you know, when I was attorney general for 8 years, we, we did fine with the powers we had, we used the statutes that were there. If he sees that there are additional subpoena powers he thinks he needs, that’s great. I’ve always looked kindly on expanding the capacity of the attorney general to investigate, that seems fine to me. I haven’t seen a bill so I don’t like to sign onto proposals until I’ve see it articulated because this is a lawyering question where the details can matter. But sure, if the AG thinks he needs more investigative powers, all the better.

Q: So you think he should be able to…

A: Again, it depends on…I haven’t seen the precise wording of what he’s proposing, but as I’d said as a former Attorney General I like the notion that they should be or could be empowered to investigate broadly. That’s, it can lead usually to good things, that’s fine by me. But I want to see what the proposal is, but go from there.

Q: If the ethics commission asked you testify would you be willing..?”

A: I’ve already answered that question. Next.

Q: Have you made any decisions with respect to Daren Dopp?

A: No, I have not.

Q: What about Rich Baum?

A: I’m not answering those questions.

Q: Can you still say with full confidence that your administration did everything openly and honestly?

A: Look, as I said, I’m not answering those questions anymore except to say that the uncontested, unambiguous conclusion is that the information that was revealed in the article should have been public
information, was public information and that no laws were
broken… So If judgments were made improperly, I acted upon to that, reacted to that appropriately, now we’re on to governing the state.
And I tell you, when I speak to the thousands of New Yorkers I speak to, that’s what they care about.

Q: Governor, do you think Republicans are treating you unfairly?

A: All I know is New York citizens are treating me very fairly and that’s because I’m governing the state and doing the things they care about, which is why by putting 1.8 billion dollars additionally into education, insuring every child with healthcare, creating jobs, retooling our economic development agency, that quite frankly, Marcia, is what the public cares about, that’s what I care about, and the rest of it is really going to fade deep into the background.