ALBANY, N.Y. – A prominent political consultant has resigned from his role advising New York Republicans after being accused of making threatening phone calls to the father of Democratic Gov. Eliot Spitzer.
Roger Stone, a former Bob Dole adviser, Richard Nixon aide and editorialist who runs his own StoneZone Web log, denies he made any phone calls to Bernard Spitzer, and claims he was "set up" because his assistance to the Senate Republican Campaign Committee was achieving results.
"I awoke this morning to false allegations in the New York press that I had made a threatening phone call to Governor Spitzer's 82 year old father, leaving a voice-mail message. Let me assure you I made no such call," Stone wrote on his site.
"The same Spitzer operatives who were caught red-handed trying to set Senator Bruno up are now trying to set me up because they have deemed that I have been an effective advisor to Senator Bruno and the Republican Senate Campaign Committee," wrote Stone, 55, who began working for the committee in June.
State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno said Stone "agreed to resign and end his relationship with us at our request." The Republican leader said the allegations against Stone "only serve as a distraction from the real issues — the abuse of government power, political espionage and a cover-up of information."
Currently, the Senate Committee on Investigations and Government Operations, led by GOP Sen. George H. Winner, has been investigating whether Spitzer's aides used the state police to try to embarrass Bruno.
The allegation — that Bruno had used state-funded transportation to attend political meetings — was proven legal, but the report by Democratic Attorney General Andrew Cuomo found misuse of state resources to track Bruno.
That probe may be expanded to review a multi-million dollar loan given in 1994 to Spitzer by his father to repay bank debts for a losing campaign for attorney general. The loans are alleged never to have been repaid by the younger Spitzer, resulting in a large, illegal campaign donation.
In the curse-laden voice-mail message, the caller says that Spitzer's "phony loans" to his son are "about to catch up with you. You will be forced to tell the truth and the fact that your son’s a pathological liar will be known to all.”
Stone, who questions whether an actual call was made, acknowledges that even if it is traced back to his apartment, it wasn't him. How? He claims that his landlord, a longtime Spitzer fundraiser and ally, has "full access to my apartment which is generally vacant as I stay on an average one night a week, so a phone call could have been made from my apartment to create a record. I am reviewing the phone bill to determine whether such a call was even made."
Stone added that he has made contact with the FBI to review the voice-mail — also sent to the Senate committee — to see whether it was "edited, spliced or doctored and whether it is even my voice. ... Are the Spitzerites capable of illegal wiretapping? I believe they are."
For his part, the elder Spitzer's attorney says the real estate developer was "distressed" by the phone call, according to The New York Times. The governor's office has not responded to requests for comment.