The former Department of Transportation employee who quit his post rather than face disciplinary hearings over talking to the press had a pattern of abusing state equipment for personal use and was involved in a personal relationship with a subordinate, a top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo said this morning.

In a radio interview on Fred Dicker’s Talk-1300 show, State Operations Director Howard Glaser said the DOT engineer, Mike Fayette, had a history of disciplinary charges leveled against him.

“There was a very broad series of problems,” Glaser said.

As first reported by The Adirondack Daily Enterprise, Fayette quit rather than face an extended disciplinary process after his superiors at the DOT were upset that he spoke glowingly to the local press about the state’s handling of Tropical Storm Irene without first clearing the interview with top officials.

To observers in Albany and elsewhere, the move smacked of an administration concerned with controlling its message from the top and, at the very least, appeared thin-skinned and heavy handed.

But largely ignored in much of the reaction to the original piece were these paragraphs:

Calling it a “personnel matter,” a DOT spokesman refused to answer questions about Fayette’s case and why it pursued what some say was a rare, “shocking” and severe penalty against him.

However, in the discipline notices the agency sent to Fayette, which he provided to the Enterprise, the department says a prior disciplinary action against Fayette – he said he and another DOT employee carried on a relationship on state time and using state computers and cell phones – played a role in pursuing his termination.

Glaser today said the employee that Fayette was in a relationship with wasn’t just a co-worker, but a subordinate. He also told Dicker in the interview that Fayette was misusing state equipment, including his car and Blackberry, and was surfing websites like Facebook, Amazon, and Overstock while on state time.

“It is not the policy of this administration to terminate people solely for improper contact with the press,” Glaser said. “If that was solely the issue here there would not have been a termination.”