I.G. Report on Spitzer Advisor

The state’s Inspector General released a report today clearing Steve Mitnick, an advisor to Eliot Spitzer of any wrongdoing in seeking to fire a member of the Public Service Commission, Cheryl Buley.

“The Inspector General found that Mitnick did ask Buley to resign her position on the PSC, and that he made at least some comments to Buley about the prudence investigation. Neither of these actions on its own is a violation of law or standards of ethics. The actual misconduct alleged is that Mitnick, either expressly or implicitly, linked Buley’s ability to remain on the PSC with her compliance with his demands or instructions. This investigation could not establish such a link.

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“due to the contradictory testimony of Mitnick and Buley; the absence of third-party witnesses to the conversations of significance; the ambiguous nature of the extrinsic evidence; and the testimony of numerous witnesses as to the credibility of the primary parties, the Inspector General cannot conclude that Mitnick committed any criminal or ethical violations under New York law with regard to his interactions with Buley. Although some of Mitnick’s actions were offensive to Buley, these same actions were clearly within his authority.”

But in a second matter, Mitnick was found to have acted inappropriately by asking state employees at an agency to meet with Angela Beddoe, a prospective Spitzer aide who, at the time, was maintaining her position at Energy East Management Corporation until her state job was formalized.

“Mitnick acted inappropriately in involving Beddoe in planning changes that were to occur prior to her assuming the PSC chair. Notably, then-Chairperson Patricia Acampora, was absent from these meetings. Mitnick should have identified the obvious risks of this situation and proceeded carefully and thoughtfully, encouraging Beddoe to do the same.”

For more on the story you can see either of these accounts with dueling headlines:

From Liz: IG Hits Spitzer Admin With Energy Ethics Scandal

From the AP: Inspector general dismisses `threat’ by top Spitzer energy aide

UPDATE: Spitzer’s spokesman Errol Cockfield responds to the report (sounding more like the AP):

"The Inspector General found that Steve Mitnick did not violate any laws or engage in any ethical violations. We are pleased to have this matter resolved."

The Inspector General’s Report makes clear that incoming administrations are permitted – and in fact expected – to bring new leadership to government agencies.

The inquiry regarding Ms. Sparks-Beddoe has been referred to the Public Integrity Commission. It would be inappropriate to comment on that matter before the Commission has completed its work."

I.G. Report on Spitzer Advisor