The resignation on Thursday of Denise E. O’Donnell as New York’s deputy secretary for public safety and commissioner of the Division of Criminal Justice Services could wind up propelling her toward a run for New York attorney general, The Buffalo News reports.
O’Donnell, who served as the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York from 1998 to 2001, resigned as one of New York Democratic Gov. David Paterson’s top aides, to protest the handling of the latest scandal in New York state government. O’Donnell complained that the state police, which was under her purview, was involved in the affair, saying that she had been assured that the state police was not involved.
O’Donnell in a statement said that communication by the governor and state police with a woman who requested a protective order against Paterson aide David Johnson, was “unacceptable regardless of their intent.” The Buffalo News reports O’Donnell claimed she was misled by the state police — one of the agencies she oversaw — about its role in the incident.
According to the newspaper, “The departure of Buffalo’s Denise E. O’Donnell from two top criminal justice posts in the Paterson administration serves as more than a statement of moral outrage — though that’s certainly part of it. It also allows O’Donnell to pursue her long-held dream of running for attorney general.”
The former federal prosecutor previously sought the Democratic nomination for attorney general in 2006 but did not get the necessary 25 percent at the party’s state convention in Buffalo to qualify for the primary ballot that year, the newspaper reports. She withdrew from the race at the convention.
But, following Friday’s announcement by Paterson that he is ending his bid for a full term, the Democratic field has all but been cleared for state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to seek the Democratic nomination, The Buffalo News reported.
If that came to pass, O’Donnell would be a likely candidate for Cuomo’s job as state attorney general. In addition to her past efforts to seek the position, she also retained a huge war chest — nearly $350,000 cash on hand — from her 2006 bid, according to the newspaper.