March 5th, 2010
11:00 AM ET
10 years ago

Black leaders voice support for embattled N.Y. governor

New York (CNN) - Some prominent African-American leaders are opting to stand behind embattled New York Gov. David Paterson until the state attorney general completes a probe into charges that Paterson misused the power of his office.

Black leaders held an emergency summit Thursday night at Sylvia's Restaurant in Harlem to discuss the media firestorm and flailing public support that has ensnared Paterson.

Organized by the Rev. Al Sharpton and off-limits to reporters, the meeting was an attempt to gauge the temperature of participants. Comments from attendees outside the restaurant indicated the dominant emotions inside were sympathy and restraint.

State Sen. Eric Adams pointed to Paterson's 22 years of public service in New York and said unproven allegations should not lead to the governor's demise.

"We have a competent attorney general, and he's doing an investigation," Adams said on his way into the meeting. "Let him do his job. It's our job to make sure the budget gets done."

Paterson, like his predecessor Eliot Spitzer, finds himself in the center of a major political controversy and, perhaps, another self-inflicted injury.

News reports say Paterson contacted a woman who was allegedly abused by a close aide, David Johnson. Jumping to his aide's defense, Paterson allegedly encouraged her to drop the charges, reports say. Since the allegations surfaced in The New York Times, top administration officials have jumped ship, and newspapers have called for Paterson's resignation, citing his apparent abuse of power.

However, attendees at the Harlem meeting - mainly from the political and religious sphere - largely criticized media coverage and swift judgment, especially in comparison to other politicians who have faced scandal.

New York City Councilman Charles Barron compared Paterson's imbroglio to the scandals that plagued former President Clinton.

"If Bill Clinton could be impeached as a president, and actually engaged in misconduct, and could run 50 states," Barron said, "then Paterson can run one state while under investigation."

When asked if race might be the impetus propelling the media's coverage, Barron said, "Of course it's a race thing. They don't want us in those positions. Race still matters."

The meeting was held a day after polls showed eroding public support for Paterson. According to a Quinnipiac University survey, job approval for the governor is at 24 percent - his lowest ever.

"New York state voters give Paterson big negatives, his lowest ever in a yearlong crash dive, but they're not ready to pull the trigger," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute in a statement. "Whether it's mercy, pity or a fear of stepping into the unknown, it runs across all the demographic categories."

After the meeting, Sharpton described the scene inside the restaurant. "There were people on both sides," he said. "The overwhelming majority backed Paterson."

Leaders who attended Sylvia's include U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks, Hazel Dukes, former NAACP President Hazel Dukes and the Rev. Jacques DeGraff of the 100 Black Men of New York.

DeGraff said before the meeting his support for the governor is waning. "I think his effectiveness has reached its limits," he said. "I think it's time for him to let the Democrats to move on."

Filed under: David Paterson • New York
soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Really? Whatever.

    March 5, 2010 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  2. Dan Holiday

    Of course they It matters not what he does. He is black...and that is all that matters to them. Pathetic.

    March 5, 2010 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  3. Texas Jack

    They would of course support anything even a gate post if it was painted black. No matter whether it could think rationally or not. Sense is not required for them to act.

    March 5, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  4. Rush is to far left

    If Sharpton is involved and defending this guy, then he should go. I was sympathetic toward him until Sharpton backed him.

    March 5, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  5. Dutch

    Leave the poor guy alone and let him serve the rest of is term. What's going on in NY is not democracy.

    March 5, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  6. jayne

    Which one is worse, Paterson going to yankee game or Sanford leaving the country without saying where he is for over 3days, Anybody?

    March 5, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  7. Angus McDugan

    That's great!!!!!!

    Let's charge this thing up and make it about race.

    That will make sure the proper decision is made.

    People playing race games are the biggest fools of all.

    March 5, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  8. rachel

    I am shocked I tell you shocked.

    March 5, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  9. Obama the Arrogant Liar

    Of course.

    March 5, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  10. Fitz in Texas

    I wonder if David Paterson were white if these folks would help him out.....hmmmmmmmmmm, I doubt it.

    March 5, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  11. gt

    its not the color of your skin but the content of ones character,,,, oops ... except if your black then anything goes .. its all about color...pitful ...!!!!

    March 5, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  12. southerncousin

    I was really hoping they would give him the same consideration they would give a white man and hang him, but that is the way of liberals is it. Play the race card. Sharpton is a poverty pimp and you know that whatever he says is wrong automatically.

    March 5, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  13. aproudmemberoftheunpatrioticmob

    Notice how they are invoking the new low standards set by Bill Clinton, former Democratic POTUS>

    March 5, 2010 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  14. Bedtime for Obonzo

    Never let principles get in the way of racial politics......

    March 5, 2010 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  15. aliou

    Sandford went across nations to look for forbiden love, yet did we hear about calls for his resignation? he is still governor!!!
    We are here talking about the stuff other people did, and paterson only said something trying to help.

    This country is so color charged. Why not sack sandford? Why paterson?

    Because he is black or because he is blind? Have your pick, Christians!!!!

    March 5, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  16. jm for sc

    Rachel and Rush is to far left,

    Please understand that blacks would like to see justice done. The thing is, we believe in due process. In America, everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

    It is not that anyone agrees with what Paterson is accused of, it is the injustices in how things are handled. Paterson knows he needs to resign, however, if he does not, he has that right as well. That is the issue with Sharpton supporting him.

    We all watched our dear President Clinton during his ordeal, however, he too was innocent until being proved guilty. Even though it appeared that he was guility, the fact is and was, that was a personal matter. There was no agreement that he was right for his encounters with the young lady, it was the fact that many others were and are doing the same thing. Some times, the work a person are doing is more important than issues in their private life. When it is all said and done, if the truth is told, we all have some things we would like to forget about. Nobody is perfect.

    I think we all need to focus on coming together rather than always digging up dirt on people. Many of us live in glass houses and should learn not to throw stones.

    Paterson deserves a full and fair investigation regardless of the position he holds.

    Dan Holiday is so wrong about black people. It does matter, we don't try to pretend we are perfect and never did anything wrong. When we judge people and hate people, we are just as guilty as that person. We are not in support of what Paterson did, but we are in full support of a full investigation without race being a factor.

    March 5, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  17. RCasson

    DON'T make this about race. Patterson is a lying fool and needs to resign. And I'm a black person saying this. Black leaders need to rally more around Obama, not this shady Governor.

    March 5, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  18. The lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    I get free baseball tickets from my credit union?
    This is political assassination nothing more. The NY Times wants Patterson out of the way for the guy they want to be Governor Mr. Cuomo. What arrogance the NY Times has in dragging this good man down the gutter because he will not do as the corporate master's tell him? This governor certainly is not my political ally but I can not stand bye and let the Corporations undermine the fair representation of fairly elected Governor.

    March 5, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  19. Miss Independence

    Great just what Patterson needed.. race baiter/professional LIAR Sharpton and being compared to Bil Clinton (the lecher -in chief)....with friends like this he should be booted out faster than Blago.....

    March 5, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  20. Monroe

    It seems that Innocent until proven guilty only applies if you are White,
    Whites try to get Blacks to be afaid on the Race card but the fact is most of them protesting it are racist.

    March 5, 2010 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  21. sam

    SC governor disappeared for 3 days, left the state's business unattended and his whereabouts unknown, on the state's money; what happened to him? he's a candidate for the US presidency!

    The Senator who pled guilty to soliciting sex from another guy in a public toilet, didnt resign.

    The other Senator sleot with his aide's wife then had his parents pay her off when the story broke out; then used his office to help the husband lobby the govt. Of course, he didnt resign either.

    What do all these folks have in common? They are all Republicans!

    Spitzer should have hung in there – he resigned much too early; at least he paid for the sex and he didnt use the state's money or disappear with his whereabouts unknown.

    Paterson has already agreed to drop his bid for election. That's enough. No one has accused him of personal gain from all the accusations.

    March 5, 2010 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  22. zion29

    Who is sharpton? Who is he and his pals to give the ok? Is this a black situation or a situation for all people.

    March 5, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  23. Hugo

    Unbelievable, I bet that piece of work Maxine Waters is leading the charge. I recently read that she held a little get together at her home on behalf of that thug that smashed the concrete block on the truck drivers head during the Rodney King (crack head) riots. That would be like a white Senator or Representative having a fund raiser for the guys that dragged that poor black fellow to death in Louisiana and inviting the KKK, once again a double standard. America needs to rid itself of all these race pimps in Washington!

    March 5, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  24. GI Joe

    Kinda like all the bible-thumping wife-beating C-Streeters coming to the aid of Sen. Ensign when he paid his mistress and her husband and son with political money and his parents money.

    Birds of a feather . . .. . . . . . . .

    March 5, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  25. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Has anyone forgotten it was Gov. Paterson himself asked that the Atty. General do his job, everybody else needs to back off. However, if Sharpton wasn't involved the media would call him out for not standing up for Paterson. I am a black woman and support the justice system and if Paterson is found guilty, let the time fit the crime.

    March 5, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
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