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Bring Back Grandeau

June 14, 2010

There’s never been a more thorough unmasking of a government body than that which occurred with the state Inspector General’s review of the Public Integrity Commission last year. In a report dated May 13, 2009, the IG exposed misconduct by the former executive director of the commission and a cover up of that misconduct by the commission itself. 

Commission members, all people with stellar resumes, were shameless and defiant after this report was issued. They pretended that the whole thing was a big misunderstanding and that, except for a few minor errors in judgment by the former executive director, everything was fine. 

The Governor called for their resignations en masse, but in classic Paterson fashion, he later dropped the demand. The state legislature voted twice to eliminate the commission and replace it with a new entity developed with the assistance of good government groups, but in classic Paterson fashion, he vetoed the measure in the hope of getting something more sweeping. He got nothing.  

 As a result, the original commission has survived. Commission members, who bear responsibility for completely undermining ethics law enforcement in New York, have gotten away with it.    

Almost, that is. There’s still an opportunity to hold the commission accountable and to reform the system. It’s a stunningly simple solution. All the governor has to do is appoint David Grandeau to fill the opening left by the death of commission member James King. 

Why Grandeau?  It’s because he’s nobody’s friend. He’s nobody’s political pal. He’s a maverick. And he’s a self-described stubborn, independent SOB and proud of it. 

With Grandeau on the commission, you can bet there’ll be no gentleman’s agreements on matters of integrity. You can bet he’d howl at any real or perceived conflict of interest. You can bet that if there are skeletons in the commission closet, they’ll be revealed.   

Of course Grandeau will make other members of the commission uncomfortable. And that’s yet another good reason to appoint him.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 14, 2010 2:05 PM

    Here’s a link to an interview the Empire Page did with David Grandeau on ethics reform last July:

  2. Not you permalink
    June 14, 2010 9:11 PM

    Interesting comment on the day Judge King’s death was reported at http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/timesunion-albany/obituary.aspx?n=james-preston-king&pid=143574465&fhid=4777

    It said, in part:

    Last year, the Northern District of New York Federal Court Bar Association awarded Judge King its prestigious Hon. James R. Duane Award, given to individuals who have demonstrated “a deep personal commitment to the preservation and understanding of our legal heritage.” This year he received the Lifetime Achievement in Public Service Award from the Government Law Center at Albany Law School.

    Pretty good recognition for a man you describe as “shameless and defiant” and whom Mr. Grandeau called a “cockroach” earlier this year on Susan Arbetter’s radio show.

    And what did the Commissioners do that was so offensive? Did they charge the wrong people with violating the law in the Troopergate investigation? Not according to the IG. Did they let someone go who should have been charged? Again, the IG’s report does not make that allegation either. So what did the former Executive Director do? He told an aide to Governor Spitzer that the Executive Chamber was not being cooperative in the investigation and that the Commission on Public Integrity would not be deterred. And he told him more than once.

    The Commissioners then said this was not a violation of the law. I think they were correct.

    In the end, Republicans appointed by Joe Bruno and Jim Tedisco agreed with the Democrats that only four people should be charged. No one has yet explained why these Democrats and Republicans would conspire to protect a disgraced ex-Governor.

    Remember Lloyd Constantine’s book? He claims that the Commission was out to get Spitzer, not protect him.

    I think the only answer that makes sense is that the one the Commission offered. They followed the case where the evidence led, without fear or favor.

    Subsequently the new Manhattan DA chose Commissioner Daniel Alonso to be one of his chief advisers. Loretta Lynch was appointed U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Judge King received the awards mentioned above. I think the record is clear.

    The Commissioners made the tough choice rather than the easy political one, and should be commended for it. Their courage has been recognized beyond the confine of Albany’s political battles, and you should be ashamed for you ill-informed post today.

    • June 15, 2010 12:58 PM

      Dear “Not You:”

      Logical fallacies abound in your reply:

      1. The fact that individual members of the commission may have won prestigious awards in the past is not germane to any analysis of the commission’s performance.
      2. Whether we expressed an opinion on the day Mr. King’s obituary appeared in a local newspaper or a week or a month later has no bearing on the matter at all.
      3. Our support of Mr. Grandeau based upon his proven independence, not his choice of words in referring to commission members.
      4. The IG’s report was about the investigation of Troopergate, not about the facts of Troopergate.
      5. Joe Bruno, James Tedisco and Lloyd Constantine are not disinterested parties and cannot be cited as objective authorities on the matter.
      6. The fact that members of the commission have gone on to other jobs is as relevant as the fact that former Governor Spitzer is now a CNN commentator.

      In our opinion, the only thing that is undeniably relevant is the following:

      “Herbert Teitelbaum … betrayed the public trust,” Inspector General Joseph Fisch said. “It is disturbing that while investigating leaks by the Governor’s office of confidential information, the Commission’s Executive Director committed a similar offense by leaking confidential information. In addition, despite receiving evidence of the Executive Director’s misdeeds, the Commission inexcusably failed on several occasions to investigate these serious allegations against Mr. Teitelbaum.”

      – NT2

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