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No regrets

 

One day after the former chief judge of New York issued a report stating that Gov. David Paterson should not face criminal charges for interfering in a domestic violence case involving a top aide, Mr. Paterson said in a radio interview that he regretted dropping out of the 2010 governor’s race.

However, a thorough reading of the report from Judith Kaye, who served as independent counsel to the attorney general’s office, suggests his decision was the proper one. While the evidence may not support charges of witness tampering against Mr. Paterson, his conduct at best reflects bad judgment. It also indicates a rather lax attitude toward truthfulness.

Initially, the report shows, the governor exhibited disinterest in the Halloween 2009 incident involving the aide, David Johnson, and Mr. Johnson’s girlfriend, Sherr-una Booker. But as the political ramifications became clear to him, Mr. Paterson moved to limit the damage. He made numerous phone calls to Ms. Booker–including one only hours after referring the matter to the attorney general’s office.

The governor also "offered" a statement to Ms. Booker for use in explaining the incident in a manner that downplayed it. She would not issue it "because she refused to say anything false" regarding her relationship with Mr. Johnson, against whom she had obtained an order of protection.

During his testimony, Mr. Paterson was asked "whether he considered the text of the statement he gave Ms. Booker to be accurate or inaccurate in light of what he understood about the (incident) at that time." The governor replied: "I would say it was neither."

Was the governor saying, in other words, that he would not know the truth if he saw it?

After Mr. Paterson referred the matter to the attorney general’s office, the governor publicly committed to "cooperate fully" with the investigation. But the Kaye report states flatly that the Executive Chamber did not keep this commitment and dragged its heels in producing requested documents.

By midweek, Mr. Paterson had changed his mind again, telling another radio audience that he did not have second thoughts about quitting the governor’s race because he could not have beaten Andrew Cuomo. So, no regrets about his decision–or his conduct in the Johnson-Booker affair.

8/6/10 (c) 2010 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or e-mail rbj@rbj.net.

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