Dopp’s Hearing Starts, Without Dopp

ALBANY—The Commission on Public Integrity is moving forward with a hearing for Darren Dopp, Eliot Spitzer's former communications director, even though he announced yesterday he won't show up.

At the request of Dopp's attorney, Michael Koenig, several letters to administrative Judge Christine Kopec were entered into the record. In these letters, Dopp asked for a stay of today's proceedings. Kopec moved ahead with them anyway as a "default hearing."

"The respondent is permitted to appear at any time, should he or his attorney wish to put on a defense," she said.

Barry Ginsberg, who presented the case against Dopp, noted a table and chairs were ready for him if he should arrive. In his opening statement, he said Dopp violated the Public Officer's Law by "engaging the State Police to help prepare a negative article about Senator Bruno."

"Faced with his day of reckoning, faced with the opportunity he always said he wanted: his day in court, his chance to cross-examine commission witnesses, his chance to speak publicly, Dopp's lawyer said he would not appear," Ginsberg said.

Yesterday, Dopp issued a statement saying "I have concluded that it is simply not possible to receive a fair hearing from this Commission."

"In the end, I know what I did and what I did not do. I released public records on all state officials who used the state aircraft during a specific period. I did so in response to a media request, and at the specific direction of the Governor. At no time did I act without consulting colleagues. At no time did I misuse the State Police. At no time did I ever ask anyone to do anything wrong," he said.

Ginsberg proceeded with his case, calling Lori Donadio, an assistant to the Commission on  Public Integrity, as the first witness against Dopp. Also on today's witness list are Spitzer aides Richard Baum, William Howard and Mariya Triesman; former State Police Commisioner Wayne Bennett, Maj. Michael Kopy, Capt. Lori Wagner and Sr. Inv. Anthony Williams.

Dopp’s Hearing Starts, Without Dopp