March 1st, 2010
11:44 AM ET
4 years ago

Embattled New York governor says he won't resign

New York Gov. David Paterson said Monday he would not resign from office.
New York Gov. David Paterson said Monday he would not resign from office.

New York (CNN) – Troubled New York Democratic Gov. David Paterson, who recently abandoned his quest for a full term, said Monday he will not resign his office. He also asserted that he retains enough authority to effectively govern one of the country's largest states for his remaining 10 months in power.

Paterson announced last Friday that he would not run for a full term. His announcement came in the wake of news reports that one of his top aides was involved in a domestic violence incident with a woman and that state police later pressured the woman to keep quiet.

Paterson has asked New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, a possible Democratic contender for the governor's office, to investigate the matter.

"I would think (resignation is) off the table," Paterson said at a question-and-answer session with reporters sponsored by the New York Observer. "In terms of authority of power, I have the power."

Paterson said "there is a hysteria I have been the victim of the past month. ... I find the whole discussion to be very remote from the issues we are facing right now."

New York, like many states, is facing a major budget crisis as a result of the economic downturn.

Paterson said last Friday that it "has become increasingly clear ... that I cannot run for office and try to manage the state's business at the same time."

He denied any wrongdoing, however, claiming that he has "never abused (the governor's) office, not now, not ever."

Paterson has suspended the aide accused of domestic violence, David Johnson, without pay. He said Friday that he is looking forward to a full investigation of his and his administration's actions.

Johnson, a one-time driver for Paterson, has been accused of several acts of wrongdoing in a series of stories by The New York Times. He has not been charged with a crime. Efforts to reach him and his attorney have been unsuccessful.

The New York Times recently reported that New York State Police contacted the woman who allegedly accused Johnson of domestic violence to encourage her to abandon efforts to seek a protective order against him. The newspaper quoted Lawrence Saftler, a lawyer for the alleged victim, whom the newspaper did not identify. Saftler did not return calls from CNN.

The newspaper also reported that the state police confirmed the woman was visited by a member of the governor's personal security detail.

Paterson said Monday that "over the past month there have been hideous rumors (and) none of those stories came to fruition."

In a statement released Thursday, the state police said Cuomo requested that it not conduct an internal investigation into the matter.

"The state police will fully cooperate with the attorney general's office and their investigation," the statement said.

Paterson told reporters Monday that he thinks Cuomo "can conduct this investigation fairly."

On Thursday, New York Deputy Secretary for Public Safety Denise E. O'Donnell abruptly resigned amid the burgeoning scandal surrounding Johnson's alleged abuse.

In announcing her resignation, O'Donnell noted that "the fact that the governor and members of the state police have acknowledged direct contact with a woman who had filed for an order of protection against a senior member of the governor's staff is a very serious matter," and called such actions "unacceptable regardless of their intent."

She said State Police Superintendent Harry Corbitt told her in January that a senior administration staff member had an argument with his girlfriend and a domestic incident report was filed.

Corbitt said "the matter was being handled as a local police matter by the New York Police Department" and her state police were not involved, O'Donnell said. She said she resigned after learning state police were involved.

Corbitt said he did not dispute O'Donnell's account of what he told her, but said "the conclusions she appeared to draw from these statements were incorrect."

The New York Times has previously reported on other allegations of wrongdoing by Johnson from when he was a teenager.

The newspaper said it based its story on "interviews and records."

Paterson had defended Johnson before the most recent allegations. Earlier this month he told CNN that The New York Times chose to "splash" Johnson's "youthful offenses across the pages of its newspaper. ... I profoundly believe in this principle of redemption and giving young people a second chance."

Paterson became governor in 2008, after a sex scandal prompted then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer to resign. He is New York's first African-American governor and the fourth in U.S. history.

The governor is legally blind, and although documentation is scarce, it is widely believed that he is the nation's first blind governor.

He was first elected to the New York State Senate in 1985, representing the 30th District, encompassing Harlem, East Harlem and the Upper West Side.

In November 2002, Paterson was elected New York Senate minority leader.

–CNN's Julian Cummings contributed to this report


Filed under: 2010 • David Paterson • New York
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    This story is a such an embarrasment not only to the governor, but to NY journalism. I'm ashamed of my hometown press smearing this man's name the way they did.

    March 1, 2010 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  2. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Cuomo should not do the investigation if he is a possible contender for the Governor's seat and Paterson should know that. There are others than can do the investigation and Cuomo can appoint anyone he chooses, Paterson has no control over that.

    March 1, 2010 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  3. No More Incumbents

    He apparently can't see the writing on the wall.

    March 1, 2010 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  4. The lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    Just think of us, the people who have to live here. We have a lame duck Governor. A State legislature who has not seen a spending bill they didn't like. We are facing 18 % tax increases across the board, property taxes up, School Taxes up, Income taxes up, fees and fees and more fees all up. And don't forget to paid for new vehicular license plate too.
    And what else population down, businesses down, and there is no end to it!
    Vote No Incumbents this fall! Tell the NYS Government “You Are Fired!”

    March 1, 2010 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  5. Alvin and the chipmunks

    David your ok with us..Why do so many Canadians stick their big beaks in our politics?

    March 1, 2010 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  6. dean

    I believe Cuomo would be a strong ,effective governor that NY really needs right now. The sooner the better, but we have to also remember he is a politician first and an american second.

    March 1, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  7. John, NYC

    It's amazing how the media went after Patterson. Yet, Charles Rangel who has a major scandal every year about some kind of tax evasion is still around and nobody cares.

    March 1, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  8. j

    Give the man a break and let him finish his term. Geez.

    March 1, 2010 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  9. Fitz in Texas

    "He denied any wrongdoing, however, claiming that he has "never abused (the governor's) office, not now, not ever."

    Spoken like a true politician.

    March 1, 2010 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  10. Barbara Independent in NY

    At this point, I don't care if he resigns. I'm just glad that he's not going to run for election.

    March 1, 2010 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  11. Nancy

    To the person that said 'he can't see the writing on the wall' well either you don't know or don't care. He is blind I think.

    March 1, 2010 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  12. Wake Up

    Dems are just following like every other ruling party does:
    - Overspend
    -Corrupt
    - Attack

    then get voted out. Can you see why we want LESS govt. Let's take away their power!!!!!!

    March 1, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  13. Wake Up

    Hey Dutch, are you serious? Patterson is an abject failure and a crook. Why do dems always want their own troubles to be brushed aside?
    Rangel is next!! Take away their power, and cut govt. spending now!!!!

    NO MORE. NO MORE.

    March 1, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  14. Read the constitution

    Dutch bad newz-that's hilarious! What does NY journalism mean? NY Times is an ad for the LEFTIST wing of the dem party. It's a joke. I just wish left wingers would understand that if you break the law, you will pay consequences. Just like if you drop out of school, you will not get a high paying job. Quit being such a suck on govt. We can't afford supporting the lazy and unwilling.

    March 1, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  15. Miss Independence

    Hey Donkeys...why aren't you going after Rangel? he just ACTS like he is blind.

    March 1, 2010 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  16. SocialismBad

    WOW.... The Democrats just won't give this guy a break! Maybe they should rename to their party to the Cannibal Party???

    March 1, 2010 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  17. SocialismBad

    Article states:
    "New York, like many states, is facing a major budget crisis as a result of the economic downturn."
    -----------------------------

    I had heard that spending in New York has increasing 70% over the last two years! Doesn't sound like a recession problem to me!!!

    This is what you get when you have liberals and Democrats running the place...

    March 1, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  18. Angus McDugan

    This should teach everyone that your vote on every office is important. He got her by being elected to a seat that eventually filled a vacated seat.

    PEOPLE, DO NOT LET POLITICAL CORRECTNESS RUIN YOUR COUNTRY!!!!!!!!!

    March 1, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  19. Preston kk

    Pkm my wifes aunt in ny told me patterson has cut schools parks a lot of good programs she is a dem and she hates his guts

    March 1, 2010 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  20. Cliff

    I like what John,NYC said.
    Rangel is one of the all-time crooks of Congress.
    You can't go after him too much. That would be racism!
    As for the Gov....let the N.Y. people decide what to do with him.
    Because of "racism" there seems to be a "hands-off" approach.
    Too bad it is now about race....again!

    March 1, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  21. valwayne

    Isn't it funny. The White House really wanted him out of the race. Then the rumours and innuendo started and he's out?

    March 1, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  22. Monster Zero

    Sorry, this all reminds me of an old Cheech and Chong skit, it went sumtin' like this; I'm Goin' downtown, I'm goin' to see my gal, I'm gonna sing her a song, I'm gonna show her my ding dong!

    It was called : Blind Mellon Chitlins'

    March 1, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  23. S Callahan

    Personally I think Cuomo is doing an excellent job in the position he is in now and would really hate to see him leave that.... on the humor side...it's clear that the 'regulars' of NY politics would prefer he get his foot in the door now for incumbent points with a 'just in case' theory behind it. Sad part is, who is willing to run for Gov of NYS..it's a such a smear and smut run now...who wants to risk it? Any bidders?

    March 1, 2010 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  24. JonDie

    Oh, that would help a lot (resigning). Just what New York needs is more chaos.

    This is just the media stirring up the pot to sell us the "news."

    March 1, 2010 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |