Dopp resisted. “I can’t be disloyal. Even if they are crapping on me, I can’t do it,” Dopp’s wife recalls him saying.
To be loyal meant taking increasing fire. In October, Albany County District Attorney P. David Soares began his second investigation into Troopergate. During his first, Soares had interviewed Spitzer, though not under oath, and determined no crimes had been committed. He took up the matter again when the Public Integrity commission asked that Dopp be investigated for perjury.
Soares was soon convinced that Dopp may have committed a misdemeanor. Dopp didn’t really regret anything he’d done, though he told Cuomo he did. But Soares didn’t believe a jury would convict Dopp; Soares wouldn’t if he were a jury member. Indeed, Soares thought Dopp was a scapegoat.
As for the rest of Spitzer’s crew, Soares seemed disgusted. “I’ve had murderers in here,” he told Dopp when he testified. “They’re more honorable than a lot of people on the second floor”—where the governor’s staff is based.
For months, Dopp silently soldiered on. Faced with criminal charges, he changed his mind. After Soares granted him immunity, Dopp said Spitzer had been more involved than the governor had led people to believe. “The governor told me to release the records,” he said.
Dopp said he had even warned Spitzer that Bruno would be “torqued” if the records were released. Spitzer then became adamant.
Soares’s investigators wanted to hear Spitzer’s exact words.
“Ladies are in the room,” Dopp said.
“I’m no lady,” said the chief investigator, a woman.
Dopp told him that Spitzer said, “Shove it up his ass with a red-hot poker.”
Spitzer may not have known how the state police were used, the crux of the problem. But to Soares, his angry statement suggested that he knew more about Troopergate than he’d acknowledged. “If you asked me did I specifically ever address this issue”—of releasing the records—“the answer is no,” Spitzer had told Soares. Until Spitzer resigned, Soares had planned to bring the conflicting stories to a grand jury.
In the months after his suspension, a housebound Dopp sometimes thought of a book Spitzer had inscribed to him as they made the transition to the governor’s office. “Think of how far we’ve come,” he’d written. “Couldn’t have done it without you.” Spitzer had been America’s most famous attorney general, and one of its most effective, and Dopp had been his right-hand man. That’s the way it was, and the way it was supposed to be, thought Dopp. Now he was sick about everything that had gone wrong, and about what he’d done. “I didn’t want to be a fall guy or a rat,” he told his wife. “Now I’m both.”
Apparently, Dopp’s fate sickened Spitzer too. Boss sent messages to Dopp through a friend. “It killed him that Darren had been hung out to dry,” said the friend. “He’d make sure Darren gets his good name back.”
These days, Spitzer is on his own path. All his life, he’d been almost pathologically averse to introspection. “How does it feel to have a pencil stuck in your eye?” was how he mocked the therapist’s approach. Now he sees a therapist. “He has good days and bad days,” says a friend.
Lately, Spitzer spends his days filling in for his father, who is in the hospital, perhaps dying. Most days, Spitzer goes to his father’s office to run the family real-estate empire.
Dopp left government service on October 8. The next day he went to work for Albany lobbyist Patricia Lynch.
It’s a good job, though Dopp can’t shake his complicated past, which unsettles some clients. And it’s not over. He could be called to testify further. He obsesses about that, and about Boss. Dopp must hate Spitzer, of course, though expressing that falls mostly to Dopp’s wife. “Even now he feels sorry for Spitzer,” she says. And he feels confused. What did he miss?
Before Dopp quit, he asked to say good-bye to Spitzer.
“It’s probably not a good idea,” he was told by a Spitzer aide. Dopp hopes that’s not the end. “I’ve got to talk to Eliot” is what he often says to friends. “Got to figure it out.”