Main | Friday, February 26, 2010

BREAKING: Paterson Ends Campaign

UPDATE: NY Gov. Paterson will announce today that he will not seek election in November.
Embattled Gov. Paterson has pulled the plug on his election bid, a source close to the governor said Friday. Paterson will announce the decision later Friday. Paterson has been under fire for having contacted a woman who accused one of his top aides of domestic violence. The source said the governor has agreed not to seek election, but he will not resign - opting to serve out the remainder of his term. The decision clears the way for Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who is the favorite of many Democrats, to seek the nomination unimpeded.
On Wednesday the New York Times widened their expose' of an aide to NY Gov. David Paterson, alleging that Paterson pressured state police to intimidate a women into not pressing charges against the aide for a reported assault. According to the woman's lawyer, Paterson himself called her.
Last fall, a woman went to court in the Bronx to testify that she had been violently assaulted by a top aide to Gov. David A. Paterson, and to seek a protective order against the man. In the ensuing months, she returned to court twice to press her case, complaining that the State Police had been harassing her to drop it. The State Police, which had no jurisdiction in the matter, confirmed that the woman was visited by a member of the governor’s personal security detail. Then, just before she was due to return to court to seek a final protective order, the woman got a phone call from the governor, according to her lawyer. She failed to appear for her next hearing on Feb. 8, and as a result her case was dismissed. Many details of the governor’s role in this episode are unclear, but the accounts presented in court and police records and interviews with the woman’s lawyer and others portray a brutal encounter, a frightened woman and an effort to make a potential political embarrassment go away.
Paterson has suspended the aide. Yesterday a top official in Paterson's administration resigned over the issue.
As she resigned, Public Safety Deputy Secretary Denise O'Donnell ripped the handling of a domestic violence allegation against Paterson aide David Johnson. Paterson aides admit the governor spoke to Johnson's accuser a day before she was to appear in court earlier this month - and a member of the governor's police detail also met with the woman. "These actions are unacceptable regardless of their intent," O'Donnell said in a statement. "It is particularly distressing that this could happen in an administration that prides itself on its record of combating domestic violence."
In a front page editorial, today the New York Daily News called for Paterson to resign.
Like most New Yorkers, the Daily News greeted David Paterson's ascension to the governorship with best wishes and fervent hope for success in endeavors suddenly assumed. Today, just shy of two years later, we urge Paterson to step down immediately. It is clear that the governor tolerated domestic abuse accusations against his closest confidante, and there is a suggestion that he joined state troopers in a campaign of witness tampering to shield the aide from prosecution. In either case, Paterson has given cause to doubt his word and his judgment, breaking a fundamental bond with the public - the bond of trust.
Paterson has insisted that he will not resign, but last night he gave the first indication that he may heed the calls of the state Democratic leadership and not seek election in November.
His political career imploding spectacularly around him, Gov. Paterson insisted Thursday night that he's still running, but for the first time said he'll consider calls to step aside. Allies abandoned him as the scandal over his involvement in domestic abuse allegations against a top aide also sucked in the head of Paterson's security detail: State Police Maj. Charles Day. Paterson's criminal justice czar also abruptly quit, enraged by her boss, and a host of Democrats declared that, at the very least, his hopes for election are shot. At worst, they said, he could be forced to resign, be impeached, or face criminal charges. "I am not suspending my campaign, but I am talking to a number of elected officials around the state," he said. "I'm obviously listening to them." "I've got an open mind about this thing. I want the Democrats to win in November," he said. "I will weigh what they have to say - but right now I am a candidate for governor."

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