As scandal mounts, New York Governor David Paterson urged to step down

Already under investigation for possible interference in a domestic abuse case, New York Governor David Paterson now is accused by a state ethics commission of not intending to pay for World Series tickets and then lying about it.

Mike Groll/AP
New York Gov. David Paterson answers questions during a news conference in Albany, N.Y., on Wednesday.

The travails of New York Governor David Paterson are getting worse, and the calls for his resignation are getting louder.

Already under investigation for possibly interfering in a domestic abuse case involving an aide, Governor Paterson now is accused by a state ethics commission of not intending to pay for tickets for the World Series for his son and his son’s friend and then lying about it.

New Yorkers all over the Empire State are now asking, “What’s next?”

Although Paterson continues to maintain he will remain in office, an increasing chorus of public officials is calling for his resignation, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D), who he appointed to replace then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“This is the old camel’s back metaphor,” says Douglas Muzzio, a political commentator and professor at Baruch College. “The bales of hay have already been piled on and you have to wonder if this is the final straw.”

Did Paterson interfere in a domestic abuse case?

On Tuesday, The New York Times reported that the governor was more deeply involved in the domestic abuse case than he has said. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is investigating the involvement of Paterson as well as the New York State Police.

Last Friday, Paterson announced he would drop his quest for a full four-year term. He had been elected Lieutenant Governor but became the state’s top official after Eliot Spitzer resigned when he became embroiled in a call-girl scandal. (Monitor blog: Eliot Spitzer: The comeback kid?)

Paterson’s problems have given Rick Lazio, who appears to be the Republican candidate, a forum to campaign for wholesale change in Albany.

“It is yet another example of how fundamentally broken Albany has become,” says Kevin Fullington, campaign manager for Lazio. “Corruption and political ambition rule the day.”

Despite this hammering, a poll released Tuesday by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute found by 61 to 31 percent that New Yorkers wanted Paterson to finish his term. (Monitor report on Paterson's decision not to run for reelection.)

“At some point people may not have wanted chaos in Albany,” says Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Poll in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. “But you also reach a point where people get fed up.”

World Series tickets

In the latest Paterson problem, the New York State Commission on Public Integrity looked into the governor’s attendance at the opening game of the World Series. Paterson’s office had called the Yankees to ask for tickets for himself, his son, a friend of the son, and two aides. They received $425 seats directly behind home plate.

“The evidence does not support the Governor’s assertion that he intended to pay for the tickets for his son or son’s friend,” says the Commission in its formal report.

To back this up, the Commission looked at the handwriting on the back-dated check Paterson eventually sent (the signature did not appear to be the governor’s), statements to the Yankees before the game, and internal communications from Paterson’s staff. In addition, the commission found Paterson had not paid for his son’s tickets for Opening Days at Yankee Stadium or Citi Field where the New York Mets play.

The Commission’s findings were sent to the Albany District Attorney and Attorney General Cuomo.

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