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Paterson Suspends Top Aide, Calls for Investigation, in Wake of Times Report

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

New York Gov. David Paterson has suspended a close aide and called for an investigation into his own administration, following a report by The New York Times that questioned whether Paterson exerted improper influence in trying to protect the aide and avoid political embarrassment.

The newspaper report centers on a domestic assault case dating back to last Halloween involving Paterson’s close aide, David Johnson. The report says that a woman who alleged Johnson had attacked her and went to court to seek an order of protection against him later complained that the State Police has pressured her to drop her case. Also according to the report, the woman was visited by a member of the governor’s security detail. The Times report says that Paterson himself also called the woman.

The woman later failed to appear for a court hearing, and as a result, her case against Johnson was dropped.

“Many details of the governor’s role in this episode are unclear or in dispute, 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,” the Times report says.

Paterson has asked for Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to investigate.

"Serious questions have been raised about contact the State Police may have had with a private citizen who filed a complaint against a member of my staff. Any allegation of improper influence must be investigated thoroughly and completely,” Paterson said in a statement released Wednesday night. "Because of the seriousness of these allegations, and the sensitive role of this staff member in my administration, I am asking the Attorney General to investigate the matter to ensure in the public's mind that a comprehensive and independent inquiry has been conducted. Pending the outcome of the investigation, I am suspending David Johnson without pay."

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