The spat between New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and Merrill Lynch centered on whether Merrill’s ex-No. 2 man Thomas Patrick had personally funded a TV documentary highly critical of Spitzer’s investigation into Wall Street stock research. Apparently Patrick is innocent of any such arrangement.

York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer’s office said on Monday it has ended questions into whether Merrill Lynch & Co.’s recently ousted No. 2 executive may have helped fund a proposed television documentary critical of Spitzer.

The proposed documentary would have centered on whether Spitzer overreached in his sweeping probe into Wall Street stock research. It had been pitched to cable television channel A&E, said producer Bill Kurtis.

Merrill Lynch last year agreed to pay $200 million in penalties to settle charges of tainted stock research brought by Spitzer and other regulators.

In March, Merrill hired an outside law firm to investigate Thomas Patrick, Merrill’s No. 2 executive, after hearing that he might have been involved in funding the proposed documentary.

Merrill Chief Executive Officer Stan O’Neal forced Patrick out last Tuesday, after Patrick, who had been executive vice chairman, lobbied hard for a new president against O’Neal’s wishes.

But Merrill said Patrick had been found to have had no involvement in funding the proposed documentary. Spitzer’s office also said it was no longer interested in the matter.

News of the possible link between Patrick and the proposed documentary was reported last week by the New York Post. At issue was the funding of the project.

Rick Kash, the head of a Chicago-based consulting firm, the Cambridge Group Inc., who is also a friend of Patrick’s, had provided some funding to Kurtis’ production company, Kurtis said.

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