Friday, August 27, 2010

Gov. Paterson's Ticket Mess Gets Worse

The Public Integrity Commission already found that Gov. David Paterson (D-NY) misled investigators and was engaging in unethical behavior when he obtained free tickets to Yankee World Series games at the new Yankee Stadium. Now, the independent counsel (and former Court of Appeals Chief Justice) Judith Kaye has made similar findings. Kaye was brought in to investigate the matter by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo:
Kaye, acting under orders from the attorney general, forwarded her findings to Albany County District Attorney David Soares to weigh criminal charges.

"The evidence indicates at a minimum the above-described portions of the governor's testimony before commission staff were inaccurate and misleading," the report found.

"The evidence developed in the [Office of the Attorney General's] investigation under the independent counsel warrants consideration of possible criminal charges."
Paterson believed that he was entitled to the tickets because he was Governor of New York and that his presence at the World Series game was somehow related to his official duties as governor.

The report makes a strong case for perjury, and notes that Paterson had a window of opportunity to correct himself and the testimony, but did not do so before the close of the proceeding. That puts him in a real bind, and it will be up to Albany County DA David Soares to consider charging the governor on perjury and perhaps obstruction of justice.

If we want to see Albany cleaned it, justice demands nothing less.

There is an ongoing culture of entitlement among elected officials who think that they can do as they see fit, regardless of the legality and ethical considerations. Paterson has been a longtime Albany fixture, and thought nothing of taking the free tickets, even though he knew or should have known that it violated state ethics rules on accepting gifts from entities that employ lobbyists, such as the New York Yankees. The team did nothing wrong here - the illegality stems from Paterson's failure to follow the law and make the necessary payments and disclosures. Then, Paterson compounded the mess by obstructing the investigation by giving false and misleading statements.

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