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Spitzer's lawyers try to block Senate subpoenas

Lawyers for Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer on Thursday began the legal process of trying to block subpoenas from State Senate investigators who are attempting to determine what, if any, role he may have played in a campaign to embarrass a political rival.

The Democratic governor, who has vowed varying levels of cooperation in the various investigations since July, says the Legislature's demands for records and testimony would violate executive privilege protections.

The Senate Investigations Committee has been looking into what State Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo this summer said was a campaign by top Spitzer aides to use the State Police to embarrass Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, R-Brunswick, over his use of state aircraft.

The matter is also being investigated by the Commission on Public Integrity, an ethics agency controlled by Spitzer appointees.

The legal challenges were filed Thursday in State Supreme Court in Manhattan.

The Spitzer administration contends the Senate can look into matters only for the purpose of crafting legislation. In this case, they claim, the Senate is engaged in "a partisan fishing expedition" that set a dangerous precedent involving separation of the two branches of government.

Senate officials, who were not available to comment Thursday night, have insisted they already have introduced a number of bills to remedy problems uncovered by Cuomo in his investigation of the matter.

e-mail: tprecious@buffnews.com

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