From today’s Morning Memo:

A former top Senate GOP aide says there are uncanny parallels between the infamous “Troopergate” scandal that bedeviled former Gov. Eliot Spitzer and the Moreland mess that is now causing headaches for Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

John McArdle, who served as spokesman for Joe Bruno when the then-Senate majority leader was the target of Spitzer’s botched political hit job, made the connection during his appearance on the “Insiders” segment of last night’s CapTon.

“Governors have tried this in the past – one in particular – Governor Spitzer, who, I think, used an entity – the State Police to try and force something,” McArdle said.

“…Here’s the parallel: That something was done in an attempt to force using an entity – whether it was Moreland or the state troopers – and you had it backfire.”

“I think the Moreland Commission, which is an executive entity – the statute says Moreland exists to investigate the executive, not the Legislature, that is the statute – so I think what happened with this is that by deputizing the members and making them deputy attorney generals, it was an effort to go after the Legislature,” McArdle continued.

“I think that was the intent all along. And using the commission as a vehicle, was, I think, the wrong vehicle, since they in turn started looking at the governor.”

(Interestingly, McArdle’s partner on “Insiders” last night was Democratic consultant Bruce Gyory, who worked for the Spitzer administration – albeit after Troopergate. Gyory declined to comment on McArdle’s theory).

Troopergate, as you’ll recall, involved Spitzer’s effort to use the State Police to report on Bruno’s travel and try to catch him violating the rules of mixing politics and state business while traveling on state aircraft.

Bruno at the time was Spitzer’s main political nemesis, and the governor was intent on trying to flip the Senate into Democratic hands.

The whole thing backfired, in no small part due to the NY Post’s Fred Dicker, who broke the story and furiously fanned its flames, but also because of an investigation conducted – and bombshell report issued – by none other than one Andrew Cuomo, who at the time was state attorney general (not to mention governor-in-waiting and a longtime political rival of Spitzer’s).

Troopergate sparked numerous probes – including one by Albany County DA David Soares, who, ironically, was also a member of the now-defunct Moreland Commission, and complained (according to the New York Times’ opus) about not receiving any case referrals before the governor shut the commission down.

No charges were ultimately brought against Spitzer for his role in Troopergate, but several of his top aides were slapped with charges by JCOPE’s predecessor – the State Commission on Public Integrity.

Also, Troopergate didn’t bring Spitzer down, though it did tarnish his reputation considerably. The former governor orchestrated his own demise with his penchant for pricey prostitutes.

McArdle didn’t mention another parallel between Spitzer and Cuomo – both are ambitious and aggressive, which led to complicated relationships with the Legislature.

But Cuomo has a deeper well of support than the self-professed “steamroller” Spitzer – even though some are now crowing over his current Moreland troubles. (Whether that support is motivated by fear of reprisal from the powerful governor is another story).

Cuomo has also been in office much longer than Spitzer was at the time Troopergate broke, and he has had far more success in office than Spitzer, passing four on-time budgets and numerous pieces of high-profile legislation (the SAFE Act, gay marriage etc.) through the Legislature.

So far, there’s just one probe – conducted by US Attorney Preet Bharara – into the Moreland scandal.

GOP AG candidate John Cahill is slamming his Democratic target, AG Eric Schneiderman, for remaining silent to date on the matter. But Schneiderman is in a bit of a bind, having deputized the Moreland members to give them investigatory powers outside the executive branch and providing top staffers to assist the commission.

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