THE NEW YORK POST
By FREDRIC U. DICKER, State Editor
February 16, 2008 -- ALBANY - Gov. Spitzer, who vowed to change Albany's pay-to-play culture "on Day 1," is allowing a top lobbyist - and employer of controversial former Spitzer aide Darren Dopp - to sponsor a $1,000-a-person fund-raising event on March 7, it was learned yesterday.
Powerhouse lobbyist Patricia Lynch, who represents dozens of clients attempting to influence Spitzer, solicited contributions from her long client list - as well as a list of other potential clients - for the event. The fund-raiser, to benefit the governor's re-election committee, will be held at the St. Regis Hotel on Fifth Avenue.
"Patricia Lynch cordially invites you to a breakfast reception in support of New York State Governor Eliot Spitzer," reads the invitation, written in a stylized calligraphic script. One recipient of the invitation told The Post, "When you look at the invitation, it makes it look like Spitzer works for Pat."
Dopp, suspended as Spitzer's $175,000-a-year communications director in late July in the wake of Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's report on the Dirty Tricks Scandal, was hired at even higher pay by Lynch in October in a move that raised eyebrows throughout state government.
Dopp, who remains under investigation by Albany District Attorney David Soares and the state Public Integrity Commission, has told associates that he believes some of the governor's top aides are seeking to make him the fall guy in the scandal, which involved the use of the State Police in an unsuccessful effort to damage Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R-Rensselaer.)
Christine Anderson, who succeeded Dopp as Spitzer's chief spokesperson, refused to explain how the governor's pledge of reform fits with his willingness to allow Lynch to sponsor the event.
Spitzer, a Democrat, pledged to end the special influence that lobbyists had in state government when he ran for election in 2006. But since then he's been widely criticized as a hypocrite for continuing many of the practices he targeted.
Last spring, The Post disclosed that Spitzer, who claimed he was voluntarily limiting contributions to his re-election campaign to $10,000, was encouraging potential supporters to "bundle" up to $1 million in exchange for special access to him.
The Post also disclosed that his wife, Silda, was sponsoring a ritzy Democratic Party fund-raiser on Central Park South with individuals - as well as controversial limited-liability corporations - solicited for up to $94,200 each.
Spitzer has also repeatedly violated pledges of government openness and "transparency," refusing to publicly answer detailed questions about the Dirty Tricks Scandal and negotiating in secret the just-approved extension of the New York Racing Association franchise.
He then rammed it through the Legislature with a special "message of necessity," the use of which he had previously criticized.
"This is just the kind of thing Pataki always did," a recipient of the Lynch invitation told The Post, adding, "We all thought Spitzer was committed to changing the way things work around here."
League of Women Voters spokeswoman Barbara Bartoletti said: "It does not appear that when it comes to campaign-finance reform, we got from the governor what we thought would happen on Day 1."