Commission on Public Integrity Charges Three With Violating State Lobbying Laws

Commission on Public Integrity Imposes Maximum Penalty on Darren Dopp

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 7, 2009
CONTACT: Walter C. Ayres
                 518-408-3976

The State Commission on Public Integrity today announced that it has assessed a civil penalty of $10,000 against Darren Dopp for knowingly and intentionally using his official position as the Governor's Communications Director to obtain an unlawful benefit.

Michael Cherkasky, Chair of the Commission, said, “This case is about Mr. Dopp, as part of a scheme to discredit a political opponent, violating the State Code of Ethics by misusing the resources of the State Police to create official-looking documents, which otherwise would not have existed, so that he could have them reproduced in a newspaper. Such misconduct erodes public confidence in both the integrity and the independence of our State Police. To assess him anything less than the maximum penalty would send the wrong signal to those who might consider similar actions in the future.”

The Commission found that Dopp's misuse of the State Police was part of an effort to damage Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, then a political opponent. Dopp not only decided what information the documents should contain, but even how they should be formatted and the type of paper on which they should be printed. Furthermore, the information was neither regularly kept by the State Police nor was it publicly available.

The Commission rejected Dopp's argument in his reply to the Hearing Officer's recommendation that a report of the State Inspector General, that was critical of the Commission, showed the investigation in this matter was “tainted.” The Commission noted that the IG's report neither alleges nor supports Dopp's argument and that Dopp himself provided not a single example to support his contention.

[NOTE: Mr. Cherkasky, who was named to the Commission on the day the IG's report was issued, stated in June that, after reviewing the Commission's investigation, the Commissioners acted in an unbiased and objective manner, and that the Commission's conclusion “was honestly and fairly reached.” He also said that the report of the Inspector General “did not adequately take into consideration that reasonable and honest individuals can have reasonable and honest differences when determining the merits of a particular matter . . .” He said that the alleged leaks did not appear to have any material impact on any investigation, nor to have been done for any sinister motive. Further, referring to the IG's report, he cautioned against expending time and resources on “such an insignificant project.”]

The Commission's Decision and the Hearing Officer's findings are available on-line at www.nyintegrity.org.