In an exclusive interview on NY1's “Inside City Hall” Monday night, the state's new governor elaborated on recent revelations from his personal life and offered up some new ones, this time regarding illegal drug use.
In a one-on-one interview with political anchor Dominic Carter, David Paterson spoke candidly about his past, admitting to illegal drug use, but not since the late 1970s.
You have used cocaine, governor?
I'd say I was about 22-23. I tried it a few times, yes.
The interview marked the one-week anniversary of Paterson's swearing-in, for which the honeymoon was barely hours long.
The next day, Paterson and his wife called a news conference to admit they'd both been involved in extra-marital affairs.
During the interview Monday, the governor again addressed his now-widely known marital problems, but wouldn't say how many affairs he'd had. He did, however, admit for the first time that he and his wife, Michelle, were separated for several years. But if the governor was uncomfortable with the questions about his marital life, he didn't reveal it.
"I feel badly about the situation, but I don't feel badly about speaking out about it. I thought that's what the public asked elected officials to do," he said.
Paterson says his candor is all part of an effort to move the state forward.
"I have tried to be open and transparent in the way that the public would ask,” he said. “I've given the information that obviously there are situations where there could be discussions ad nauseum about this kind of thing, but I am trying to focus on the job that I have risen to as a result of our constitution."
Paterson says he hopes to now focus his full attention on Albany, where he hopes to help close a $4.6 billion budget deficit gap within the next week in time for the April 1 budget deadline. The governor has already scrapped $800 million in state spending.
"Our national economy is reeling and I don't think that all of the legislators have understood the impact that it will have on our economy unless we take action now," he said.
As for his disgraced predecessor, Paterson says the former running mates haven't talked since the swearing-in, but he did receive a note from former Governor Eliot Spitzer’s wife Silda.
"She wished us well. She said that she thought Michelle was going to be a great first lady. She thought that I would be an outstanding governor. She said that even in the tumult of their lives, that Eliot was happy that he chose someone who knew how to run government," said Paterson.
But when the questions shifted back to the governor’s personal life, Paterson said it’s unlikely any of his confessions will lead to his resignation, unless:
"Well, maybe one night if I just get frustrated and jump across the desk and kill you for all these questions you’re asking me, Dominic, I guess I'll have to step down as governor,” Paterson chided.
Some New Yorkers who spoke with NY1 about the governor's latest revelations say they’re willing to overlook his past so that he can get on with the business of governing.
"Everybody's done things in the past and it's best to get it out in the open now. I really don't see what's the big deal about it,” said one New Yorker.
"Even though it's illegal, I don't think he has done anything wrong, because everyone has done it while they were in college,” added another.