Embattled Governor Facing Possible Perjury Charges

Friday, August 27, 2010


Gov. David Paterson gave misleading answers to investigators questioning how he got Yankees World Series tickets last year. That's the main finding of Independent Counsel Judith Kaye. WNYC's Bob Hennelly discussed Kaye's findings and their implications.

Remind us what the problem is with the governor going to a World Series game. We see political leaders all the time at major sporting events. Mayor Bloomberg is always at Yankee games, former Mayor Giuliani, they're there all the time. Do these guys pay for their own tickets?

Hennelly: What Judge Kaye basically does is it take a look at what it was that Paterson said about the tickets -- that's the key thing -- in sworn testimony before the ethics commission. As a point of law, state officials cannot take or solicit comp tickets to events. It's very clear in the law. So basically back on opening day of the Yankees World Series, October 28th, the governor was there with four individuals who needed seats, including David Johnson, his aide, Paterson's son and his son's friend. The next day, a [New York] Post columnist, Fred Dicker, called Paterson's press office to ask for details surrounding the tickets. And basically Paterson's press secretary, Peter Kauffmann, responded that after canvassing -- of course -- the Paterson administration that the governor had been invited by the Yankees to attend in an official capacity as a ceremonial occasion. Now Dicker, who's nobody to mess with, immediately called around and found holes in Paterson's story. And as a result, the state commission on public integrity -- like the next day, October 30th -- sent notice to Paterson that they had information that he had violated this law. And so basically, it's not until February of 2010, months later, when Paterson actually gives sworn testimony to the commission that he had intended to pay for the tickets and indeed brought an incomplete check, which he gave to his aide David Johnson. That's when he gets himself into trouble.

So what did Judge Kaye then conclude about the governor's conduct? We're not talking about whether he got a free ticket or not. We're talking about what he said about getting that free ticket.

Right and also, it comes down to whether or not, if he got five free tickets, that's a problem. That is according to the law and then also gets into the question of potential perjury is what looks like a story that Kaye says basically was concocted, if you will. It was made up, that was only generated, this idea of having that partially completed check, that only into place according to Kaye after the press inquiry. After he knew that he was in the crosshairs of the public integrity commission.

OK, so what happens next now? We've been reporting this morning that the Albany DA will now look into this. Is this a criminal investigation now?

Well, it is. What the attorney general is doing is passing along this mountain of evidence they have along with the transcripts from witnesses to David Soares, the Albany County District Attorney. He has jurisdiction because the testimony was taken in Albany County.

So it's not in the Bronx where Yankee Stadium is?

Right. No, it has to do with where the inquiry occurred and where Paterson gave what Kaye says are these misleading answers. And it'll be up to Soares to make an independent judgement as to whether or not this rises to a criminal level of perjury.  

Kaye wasn't only looking at the tickets for the World Series. They were other issues. What other issues was she looking at?

Well, this was the case of Governor Paterson getting involved in the domestic violence case surrounding David Johnson, his aide, who was alleged to have beaten up his female companion. The allegation was that Paterson had gotten involved by reaching out for the domestic violence victim and in essence kind of tampering with the key witness in that case. Judge Kaye found there was no criminality in the governor's behavior, just poor judgment. Although subsequently, Johnson has been indicted up in the Bronx on domestic violence charges.

So Gov. David Paterson has just more than four months left on his term. What are the political consequences of this latest turn of events?

It certainly means it puts another burden on Paterson. It's going to be very difficult to be in public when he makes his appearances. They've got to be guarded because now he has this criminal liability. Now, his defense attorney, Ted Wells, managed to find some things in the report that do leave some ambiguity for the governor in terms of what his intentions were when he was before the commission. With the Democratic candidate for governor, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, trying to be the gubernatorial candidate for the "new, new New York," it makes it really tough because what sticks in voter's minds, well, there was Eliot Spitzer. He had to leave the stage early because of the prostitution scandal and now of course we have an embattled Gov. Paterson.


Bob Hennelly

Hosted by:

Richard Hake


More in:

Comments [4]

Walter Clark from Good Riddance for David Paterson

Good riddance for the current governor david paterson. his term ends about 16 days from now, because for what he has done for the people for New York State, like shutting down
some state parks, and historic sites that people do like to enjoy. I can consider him as a criminal, because of the tickets for the Yankees game, and also doesn't have any consideration for all New Yorkers, because he was going to close down state parks, and historic sites that people enjoy the most, and raising taxes on everything people enjoy, such as drinks like soda, and juice. Thinks to him, people are unemployed,and he raised taxes on everything that people like to do, or use in everyday life. I'm glad that Andrew Cuomo will be better then David Paterson, because he will do better things for the State of New York and for the people of the State of New York

Dec. 16 2010 03:09 PM
yvonne from Park Slope

It seems to me that immediately after some Democrats decided that Paterson could not win in his next election, there has been an unrelenting scrutiny that has not let up ... even after he said that he would not run again.

Is anyone inviting Bloomberg or Giuliani to perjure themselves about their obvious attendance at games??

I think that Democrats are shooting themselves in the foot on this one.

Aug. 28 2010 11:27 AM
cleanupnynow from Albany

David Paterson should go to JAIL or be IMPEACHED in regards to not only his disregard for the law, but also lying and misleading the Public Integrity Commission regarding his intentions not to pay for the tickets.

This incident shows that Paterson has no ability or credibility to govern. In fact, “The Democratic Conference: Organizational and Operational Structure Report” is an eyewitness account of Paterson’s DYSFUNCTIONAL governing nature while Senate Minority Leader.

Paterson’s office was criticized for PATRONAGE, LACK OF LEADERSHIP, INDECISIVENESS and INFIGHTING, set against a backdrop of general CHAOS – in other words the office was a ZOO. Those interviewed in the report indicated that its chief of staff the disorganized Michael Jones-Bey had no management skills, was neglectful in his duties – often boozing it up with staff and coming to the office with a hangover - and should be relieved of his position.

Amazingly, for running such a DYSFUNCTIONAL CHAOTIC office, the disorganized Michael Jones-Bey was hand picked by David Paterson to mismanage the Division of Minority & Women Owned Business Development (MWBE) at Empire State Development Corporation.

Now that's the Paterson Way - being rewarded for your incompetence.

New Yorkers do not deserve to be punished any further by David Paterson’s presence.

David Paterson needs to RESIGN NOW - not tomorrow, not next week, not next month but, RESIGN NOW.

Aug. 28 2010 11:20 AM

Ok si it's the law. Gov. David Paterson should have paid for the tickest but come on. Who wouldn't take freebies. It's not like he stole them. But what do I know. Hey Gov. Next time just send them to TX. We will be more then happy to take them.

Aug. 27 2010 05:53 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.


Latest Newscast




WNYC is supported by the Charles H. Revson Foundation: Because a great city needs an informed and engaged public


Supported by