Top aide to New York governor resigns

By Associated Press
Friday, February 26, 2010

ALBANY, N.Y -- A top aide to New York Gov. David A. Paterson resigned Thursday and the governor faced new pressure from fellow Democrats to abandon his election bid after a newspaper reported that his administration had intervened in a domestic-violence case involving another aide.

State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo (D) will investigate whether Paterson's office committed crimes or other wrongdoing in the matter, which involved longtime Paterson adviser David Johnson and a woman.

The New York Times reported Thursday on court papers showing a phone call between state police and the woman. Paterson's office acknowledges that the governor spoke to the woman but says she placed the call, and a spokesman for Paterson denied that anyone tried to keep the woman from pursuing a domestic violence case.

Criminal Justice Services Commissioner Denise E. O'Donnell resigned over the scandal. She said state police Superintendent Harry Corbitt had assured her that his agency was not involved in the confrontation involving Johnson.

Paterson said he will speak to key New York Democrats about his political future but for now he is continuing his campaign. He also said he will cooperate fully with Cuomo's investigation.

Asked whether he will withdraw if more Democrats press him to do so, Paterson responded: "I am obviously listening to them. I've got an open mind about this thing. I want the Democrats to win in November."

Paterson was lieutenant governor when Eliot L. Spitzer's resignation amid a prostitution scandal elevated him in March 2008.

Some consider O'Donnell's departure a sign that the administration is tottering. "That's a very serious blow," state Sen. Bill Perkins (D), who represents Paterson's old district in Manhattan's Harlem neighborhood. "She has been loyal, so the Cabinet, so to so speak, is falling apart."

Perkins is among top Democrats who want the governor to end his candidacy for a full term this fall. "To the extent that he can govern, he can best govern without the campaign and by focusing on the needs of the community," he said.

Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) said it is time for friends to be straight with Paterson. "I think it's become apparent that he should not seek election and should announce it soon," Israel said. "And sometimes friends have to speak unpleasant truths."

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