Updated 03/03/2010 05:57 AM
State Police Superintendent Harry Corbitt retiring
Another stunning development in the ongoing scandal at the state Capitol as New York State Police Superintendent Harry Corbitt announces he is retiring. This, as speculation builds about what role New York State Police and the Governor's administration may have played in claims they intervened to protect a close aide accused of abusing a woman. In an exclusive interview on Capital Tonight, Corbitt sat down with us to set the record straight. Our Erin Connolly has more on what he had to say.
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ALBANY, N.Y. -- This surprising announcement comes as Governor David Paterson is dealing with increasing calls for his resignation. It's clear the scandal swirling at the state Capitol doesn't only cast a dark cloud over the Governor, it has also thrust the New York State Police and its leader into a sea of controversy.
Harry Corbitt, the NYS Police Superintendent said, ''Yes, I plan to enter back into retirement. I'm looking forward to it. So effective tomorrow, I will retire from the New York State Police.''
After 26 years on the force, State Police Superintendent Harry Corbitt is saying goodbye. This goodbye amidst allegations that members of the Governor's security team contacted a woman, urging her to not press domestic violence charges against David Johnson, a top aide to Governor Paterson.
Corbitt said, ''I know in my heart I have represented the State Police well. I sent out an email to troopers that I would never do anything to tarnish the reputation of the state or any of its employees by providing inaccurate information and I've met that objective.''
Some may disagree with the Superintendent. The day before Governor Paterson announced he would not seek a full term in office, Deputy Secretary for Public Safety Denise O'Donnell resigned. She says she was lied to by Corbitt and thinks it is unacceptable that Paterson and the State Police made contact with the woman.
In a statement released, she said, "Superintendent Harry Corbitt told me the staff member had an argument with his girlfriend, that a domestic incident report had been filed…and that the matter was being handled as a local police matter by the New York Police Department."
Corbitt said, ''Denise O'Donnell said she retired based on something she read in a newspaper report. And she also said information I provided was falsely reported. It's clear to me the press has been so strong in pushing this agenda and issue that it became even believable to her.''
While both Paterson and Corbitt maintain their innocence in this matter, the Attorney General's office has launched a full investigation.
Corbitt said, ''Working as a superintendent in the office of superintendent there needs to be this public perception that the person serving in that position is trustworthy and forthright and has the best interests of the citizens in the state of New York in mind. This media fire storm has really disrupted my ability to function in that capacity.''
As this black eye on the State Police force tries to heal, Corbitt hopes the tarnished image can be fixed.
Corbitt said, ''Those troopers day in and day out do not deserve the type of scrutiny because they are part of state police, actually the core part of state police. They are understaffed, undermanned, they're under equipped, they do a fantastic job and I'm immensely proud to have been their leader.''
The Governor responded Tuesday night to Corbitt's retirement, saying, "We will move forward now and look to see who will be the best person to lead the state police."
Obviously the Attorney General's office will continue to investigate these allegations. Paterson says he has never abused his office and the truth will prevail. Corbitt says the same. As for the Governor's top aide David Johnson, he has been suspended without pay pending the investigation.