Dopp Hops to Lobbyland Seeking A Kinder Master
We’ve previously explained the contretemps and multiple investigations over Troopergate had certain aspects of farce because various Inspector Clouseaus pored over similar material and drew slightly different conclusions, depending on how hard they looked, what they were trying to find, and who was running against whom in 2010.
Nonetheless, dog and pony show that it may be, the conclusion of the five separate taxpayer-funded investigations will have some impact on the standing of the characters.
We now learn that Darren Dopp, the governor’s aide at the center of the controversy, will not remain on the public payroll. Instead, he will be as close to it as you can get while remaining in the private sector. He will be a partner with the large and influential lobbying firm Patricia Lynch Associates. Ms. Lynch was formerly a top aide to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Her firm has both Democratic and Republican partners and clients. She is a very important person.
Double D appears to have been traded to a new team, making the jump from the Spitzers of Fifth Avenue on the Upper East side to the Silvers of Grand Street on the Lower East Side. The Uppers are book smart and have more elegant resumes, but the Lowers are street smart and get along with people, by intimidation if necessary.
We do not know whether the metamorphosis of Dopp from attack dog to spaniel was initiated by his old boss or his new one. Dopp would not have gotten his new job with Ms. Lynch without the consent of the Speaker. This may show the Albany crowd that even if Eliot dumps his faithful servant after nine years over an action he now deliberately denies or defends, depending on the day he discusses it, the good old reliable buddy, Shelly, is ready to pick the wounded bird off the floor after he hit the glass window, and give him another chance to sing for his supper.
Or it may have happened because Darren knows a great deal about the rise to power of a well-born prosecutor, and this information could be useful to those who are compelled by law to deal with him. There is an odd chance that Shelly is doing Eliot a favor by taking Darren off his hands. He can’t write any books while he is working on the speaker’s side of the street. His speech will belong to Silver, but his silence will be golden.
Dopp showed his loyalty to Spitzer by taking the fall for whatever he did this year with the state police, although the information he wanted on Sen. Joe Bruno’s political air flights at public expense was otherwise available. Loyalty and discretion are qualities that are valued in the Capitol, and Dopp is expected to serve his new employer with the same fidelity he showed his old mentor. They say he will not be a lobbyist, but will devote himself to the public relations work of Patricia Lynch Associates. A communications consultant, Dopp may, however, have information that could be useful to those who do the lobbying. There is nothing wrong with that.
We are pleased that Dopp has found a safe harbor, with the aid of the man who may still be the State’s most powerful Democrat, although the general expectation was that that role would end Jan 1. On the other hand, one should never underestimate a sitting governor with intellect, money and commitment. When push comes to shove, the mob rallies about the king, not the courtiers.
For anyone who thinks this dance is unusual, don’t worry, this is Albany. We look forward to seeing where the players will be when the music stops next time. Oddly, we wish these people well as individuals; they are not monsters. It is the system of government which gives them inordinate power over the State and its budget that is grotesque. To the extent the oligarchs share any power, it is with their contributors and some of their vassals, many of whom are elected. But can we say for certain that if the sheep had autonomy, their bleats would be any wiser? Or would a new set of obligations and payoffs appear with the decentralization of power. Ironically, in terms of the public interest, the cause of reform does not ensure that, even if it is achieved, the substantive results will be any better. There will, however, be more cooks preparing the broth, hopefully not spoiling it.
The governor considers himself a reformer, but he does not show regard or respect for anyone who disagrees with him on any issue, viewing every legislative dispute as a contest between good and evil, with himself, of course, as the white knight. This makes it difficult to bargain or negotiate on issues so there isn’t much bargaining going on. That means nothing much happens in Albany, while money continues to hemorrhage from the swollen budget and young people continue to leave chilly and jobless regions upstate.
We consider ourselves reformers and progressives, but government is not a morality play, with all the good guys on one side. Here in the United States, it would be hard to maintain that any one faction or public official has a permanent monopoly on truth and justice.
Can we get down to the public issues that face the State of New York? Now we are approaching the middle of October. The leaves are falling fast.