Saturday, March 22, 2008

A Very Rough First Week

Governor David Paterson should have been on cloud nine this week, having been sworn in as Governor of New York on Monday, replacing disgraced Democrat Eliot Spitzer. Paterson, a Democrat himself, promptly began providing cannon fodder for the papers because he admitted to having extramarital affairs, and that campaign funds were used to pay for hotel rooms in some instances.

Now, we learn that Paterson gave campaign funds to someone he might come to regret:
In 2001, Paterson's state Senate campaign paid "wages" to a disgraced doctor specializing in alternative medicine - and secured state funding for a foundation linked to her.

That same year, Paterson appears to have also used campaign funds to purchase anti-aging supplements from a Southern California company that sells alternative medicines.

According to campaign finance records, Serafina Corsello was paid $250 in what's listed as "wages" on Oct. 29, 2001.

Corsello's medical license was revoked by the state Department of Health on Sept. 17, 2001, after she was found guilty of a long list of charges - including negligence and incompetence.

Friday, Paterson's aides said he did not recall the payment and did not remember Corsello.

She did not respond to repeated attempts to contact her this week for comment.

On April 30, 2001, the Paterson campaign paid $182.05 to Roex Inc., a company that sells anti-aging supplements including one called "The Biblical Solution."
Business as usual? For Albany, it is. Once again, questions should be asked as to how and why campaign funds for state politicians aren't policed to prevent these kinds of abuses. I know some are going to claim that it is too difficult or that these are de minimis abuses of campaign funds, but aren't we supposed to be holding politicians to the letter of the law?

is now reimbursing the campaign fund for two nights at a Manhattan hotel.

The Post has a rundown of other campaign funds used for personal matters, which is a direct violation of state election law:
But the new Democratic governor also used his campaign account for other personal expenditures - a practice that is illegal - and then reimbursed the fund several months late, Berger acknowledged.

The lawyer said he found the repayments after a limited internal review.

They included:

* A $1,430.04 check Paterson wrote in June 2004 to cover more than $1,000 worth of clothes at the Men's Wearhouse, and a roughly $350 tab at the club Den.

The items were listed as "constituent services" in Paterson's filings, and there are no receipts available, Berger said.

It is also a violation of state election law to falsely label the reason for the campaign expenditure.

* A $637 check in July 2004 for roughly $470 worth of furniture at Taft Furniture Warehouse, an Albany Crowne Plaza hotel bar bill and about $40 at another men's store.

* A $70 check in February 2004 to cover a post-Christmas dinner with his dad at Docks restaurant on the East Side.

* Paterson himself reportedly said he paid a woman identified as his former lover, Lila Kirton, $500 as a reimbursement for a donation for another candidate. But Berger yesterday said that upon further review, it turns out there was an extensive reconfiguration of his campaign database and she was paid wages.

Officials refused to say whether Kirton was still romantically involved with Paterson at the time.

* After initially refusing, Paterson aides provided late yesterday a copy of a canceled check for $1,000 to Luiza Vizcarrando, a New Jersey woman who told The Post she barely knew Paterson, never worked for him and didn't get paid.

The check was for "list management," and Berger said she also did work on the database for "two weeks." Vizcarrando couldn't be reached for comment.
Better late than never appears to be the way the game is played, and that's how Paterson's supporters are likely to spin this. You use the campaign funds as needed, and if caught, you repay, and they figure no-harm, no-foul. I wonder, though, if interest were paid on the amounts, given that the campaign funds essentially acted as a loan to Paterson.

Oh, and Paterson says that he supports Mayor Michael Bloomberg's congestion pricing tax. Nice.

Meanwhile, the Times Union reports that it is very unlikely that Eliot Spitzer used state funds or campaign funds to pay for his trysts with prostitutes. He should be thankful for that - it's bad enough he was breaking the law with the prostitutes, but paying with campaign funds or state funds would have meant prosecutors had a sledgehammer to use against Spitzer, who's now in sex addiction therapy (and will use that to offset any potential prostitution rap).

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