Thursday, February 25, 2010

Scandals Could Take Down NY Governor David Paterson

Leave it to the accidental New York Governor David Paterson to make a bad situation worse.
A top aide to Gov. Paterson abruptly quit Thursday over the mushrooming scandal involving the governor and State Police.

As she resigned, Public Safety Deputy Secretary Denise O'Donnell ripped the handling of a domestic violence allegation against Paterson aide David Johnson.

Paterson aides admit the governor spoke to Johnson's accuser a day before she was to appear in court earlier this month - and a member of the governor's police detail also met with the woman.

"These actions are unacceptable regardless of their intent," O'Donnell said in a statement.

"It is particularly distressing that this could happen in an administration that prides itself on its record of combating domestic violence."

O'Donnell charged that State Police Superintendent Harry Corbitt informed her in January that a senior administration staff member had been involved months earlier in a domestic incident.
That Paterson contacted the accuser a day before she was to appear in court appears to be a serious ethical breach, and could expose Paterson to charges of attempting to influence the outcome of a criminal case involving one of his advisers. Paterson is an officer of the court in addition to being governor, so he could have violated the New York Legal Ethics Guidelines by engaging in such contact with the accuser.

Mind you, no one knows what was said, but it's the appearance of inappropriateness that demands a full investigation into what is going on in the Governor's office. I'm sure that Attorney General Andrew Cuomo will take to this issue with gusto given that he's the presumptive frontrunner for the governor's office.

Despite all the turmoil on the Second Floor in Albany,while the NY Times reports that he will weigh his options, the Daily News reports Paterson intends to continue his run for election as governor. He's fighting a losing battle as each week reveals yet more scandal, ethical lapses, and other problems, and that's not even beginning to scratch the surface of the fiscal problems facing the state and that which have not been adequately addressed by the governor.
Longtime Long Island Congressman and fellow Democrat Rep. Steve Israel called on Paterson to suspend his reelection campaign.

“I think it’s become apparent that he should not seek election and should announce it soon,” Rep. Steve Israel told The Associated Press. “And sometimes friends have to speak unpleasant truths.”

Israel, said he reminded the governor that there is “life after Albany.” Israel declined to say what Paterson’s response was or share other details of the call. Paterson spokesman Peter Kauffmann declined to comment.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver called the allegations "horrific."

"The allegation that individuals who have sworn to protect the public and uphold the law were utilized to deter a victim of domestic violence from seeking an order of protection is deeply disturbing," Silver said. "I believe that this is an extremely serious matter that warrants an immediate investigation."

Silver continued: "That investigation must address at whose direction and with whose knowledge members of the Governor’s security detail were acting when they contacted the victim, and whether or not any other government officials participated in or had knowledge of any effort to dissuade her from pressing charges or pursuing an order of protection."
Silver should know. He did much the same thing for one of his advisers, Michael Boxley. Boxley, a legal adviser to Silver, was accused or raping two women while working in the Speaker's office, and Silver allowed a culture of sexual harassment to persevere and failed to properly investigate the matter. Silver and the Assembly leadership agreed to pay $500,000 to settle a lawsuit in the matter.

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