Updated 02/25/2010 10:12 PM
Paterson Vows To Stay In Race Despite Scandal
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Amid a mounting scandal and the resignation of one of his top officials, Governor David Paterson said Thursday he's not abandoning his plans to seek a full term this fall.
During a news conference at a Midtown hotel, Paterson said despite calls from leading Democrats, he is not suspending his campaign.
"I'm obviously listening to them. I've got an open mind about this thing. I want the Democrats to win in November. I want the governor of the state of New York to Democratic, hopefully me. And I will weigh what they have to say but right now I'm a candidate for governor," the governor said.
Paterson also said he will cooperate fully with State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's investigation into contact his administration had with a woman who accused his aide David Johnson of domestic violence.
In her resignation letter released Thursday afternoon, Criminal Justice Services Commissioner Denise O’Donnell cited the handling of the controversy over Johnson, who allegedly beat his then live-in girlfriend.
Johnson, who rose rose through the ranks from a driver to a top aide to the governor, was suspended without pay earlier this week.
The New York Times reports that the alleged victim went to court twice, complaining that the State Police were pressuring her to drop the case.
The woman’s lawyer says she then received a phone call from the governor himself, right before she failed to show up for a hearing earlier this month, when the case was dismissed.
In her resignation, O’Donnell, a former United States attorney, says:
"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," O'Donnell said in a press release. "These actions are unacceptable regardless of their intent."
Speaking on the radio Thursday morning, the governor asked New Yorkers to reserve judgment until the facts come out.
"I don't want to talk about that because those are things the attorney general will ask me about and I don't want step in front of it,” Paterson said.
The governor has handed the investigation over to State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.
“The governor has formally referred to this office a matter for investigation and this office is proceeding to determine if criminal or other wrongdoing is involved," said Cuomo's office in a statement released today.
In response, the State Police is not conducting an investigation in the matter and Superintendent Harry J. Corbitt said in a statement that the attorney general's office would "quickly reveal the nature of the contact between a State Police official and the woman involved in the incident with David Johnson."
Meanwhile, top state officials, including the State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, New York's top fiscal watchdog, are questioning whether the governor can adequately handle the state's budget crisis. DiNapoli is asking for Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch to play a bigger role.