Thursday, March 04, 2010

NYS Politics In A Nutshell: UPDATE: Paterson's Top Spokesman Resigns

You know that New York State politics is utterly screwed up when you have Al Sharpton apparently acting as a voice of reason. He's arranging a meeting of top Democrats tonight at Sylvia's in Harlem to discuss New York governor David Paterson's multiple scandals and what action should be taken.

Paterson's situation got more complicated yesterday when the Commission on Public Integrity referred its case to the Albany County DA David Soares and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. They found that Paterson lied under oath for obtaining Yankee tickets and then backdating a check to claim that he paid for the tickets. It wasn't until he was confronted by journalists that he sought to pay for the tickets that he thought were free.

Obtaining the tickets for free was a conflict of interests since the team lobbies Albany for various benefits and had issues pending before the state and city. There is no suggestion of wrongdoing on behalf of the team, but the governor's situation is a different story.

Meanwhile, the state budget is due April 1 and the multibillion dollar deficit continues growing. Don't expect an on-time budget either, despite Shelly Silver's claims that they'll get one done. It happens so infrequently in New York that most municipalities expect to have to use bridge financing to await the new budget.

At the same time, a junior member of the New York Congressional delegation, Eric Massa, has decided not to run for a second term. There are allegations that he harassed a male staffer. Massa also has health issues but it means that Democrats are on the defensive.
Mr. Massa’s decision came after an aide complained to the House ethics committee that Mr. Massa had harassed him, according to a senior Congressional official who would speak only on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter.

In a brief statement Wednesday night, Representative Steny H. Hoyer, the House Democratic majority leader from Maryland, confirmed that the ethics panel was investigating the allegations against Mr. Massa. Mr. Hoyer said the staff member initially brought his complaint to the attention of his office last month and that the ethics committee had been notified within 48 hours.

Earlier in the day, in a brief statement to reporters in a teleconference, Mr. Massa denounced reports of the allegation against him, which appeared on a Web site,, even as he acknowledged using “salty language” with members of his staff.

In a defiant tone, he added, “Those kinds of articles are a symptom of what is wrong with this city.” He said it was the reason other members of Congress had “decided like I, ‘I do not have the life energy to fight all the battles all the time.’ ”
Add to all the intrigue in Albany the fact that senior Democrat Charles Rangel stepped down as chair of the House Ways and Means committee on a temporary (to hopefully permanent) basis and you've got the potential for a sea-change in New York politics.

Politico has much more on the history of the most recent wave of scandals.

Here comes some video; first is the investigation into Paterson's Yankee ticket mess:

Next, we've got the meetings by top Democrats into Paterson's political future:

Did David Johnson forge Paterson's signature on the backdated check to the NY Yankees to cover the costs for the tickets to those games? It would appear so - based on a comparison of known Paterson signatures to that of the check issued.

Paterson's top spokesman has resigned.
The top spokesman for Gov. David Paterson resigned Thursday, saying he couldn't "in good conscience continue'' in his job amid two scandals, becoming the third key administration member to jump ship in recent days as the governor fends off two misconduct scandals.

Peter Kauffmann issued the following statement:

"I have been honored to serve the people of New York during a difficult time in our state’s history. As a former officer in the United States Navy, integrity and commitment to public service are values I take seriously."

"Unfortunately, as recent developments have come to light, I cannot in good conscience continue in my current position. I have notified the Governor that I am resigning as Director of Communications."
No one wants to sign their name to any releases from the governor's office because no one can seemingly trust what the governor is saying in relation to these ongoing scandals. I don't blame any of them for jumping ship. Why be tarred with scandal with a flailing governor who doesn't seem to understand the seriousness of his situation.

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