One of Paterson's other women identified

New governor admits to several affairs
March 19, 2008 3:22:26 AM PDT
Governor David Paterson revealed Tuesday that he had affairs with several women, including a state employee, since about 1999. The admission to reporters came a day after disclosing at least one extramarital affair.Paterson said the affairs happened during a rough patch in his marriage, and that the employee did not work for him. He insisted he did not advance her career, and that no campaign or state money was spent on the affairs.

"I do not feel I have broken my commitment to the people of New York state," Paterson said at a news conference with his wife, Michelle Paige Paterson.

Paterson admitted to having an affair with a woman who has been on the state payroll and works in the executive branch.

While Paterson did not identify her, sources have confirmed to Eyewitness News that it is Lila Kirton, who is director of community affairs in the current administration.

The 49-year-old Kirton, of White Plains, joined the executive branch when Eliot Spitzer took office in 2007, according to state records.

She has reportedly worked in state government since 1989, first as a law assistant in New York City Civil Court and later in the state Attorney General's Office starting in 1990. She was promoted in 2002 as an assistant deputy and director of intergovernmental relations in the Attorney General's Office.

Kirton could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Paterson, 53, initially admitted an affair in an interview with the Daily News on Monday after he was sworn in, but his comments Tuesday indicate the couple's fidelity problems went deeper than he first acknowledged. He is not having an affair now, he said.

The Patersons said they both had affairs during a time when their marriage was headed toward divorce. But they admitted the infidelity, sought counseling and have built a stronger marriage and family.

"We dealt with it as a family," his wife said. "A marriage has peaks and marriage is perfect."

"I think we have a marriage like many Americans, maybe even like many of you," the governor told reporters. "Elected officials are really just reflections of the people we represent."

Paterson said the affairs took place since about 1999, and extended into his term as lieutenant governor. He said he didn't reveal the affairs during his time as a senator, Senate minority leader or lieutenant governor because no one had asked and he came forward because he didn't want the rumors to cloud his governorship.

"I didn't want to be blackmailed," the Democrat said in explaining why he was admitting the affairs. "I hope to be a governor that is able to govern with a free hand, without fear of any kind of remorse or that anyone would find out anything about me to try to exploit it."

Paterson, who is legally blind and the state's first black governor, ascended to office after Spitzer's resignation last week amid allegations he hired a high-priced prostitute from an escort service. Federal prosecutors are still deciding whether to pursue charges against him.

Assembly Democratic Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat, said Tuesday he doesn't believe Paterson was weakened by the disclosure.

"This Albany press corps was in a feeding frenzy, looking for anything they could do to find it," Silver said. "And basically what David Paterson did was say, 'Stop bothering people. Here's the story. And that's it."'

Republican Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, who is next in the line of succession to the governor's office should something happen to Paterson, said Paterson's personal life is Paterson's business only as long as it doesn't interfere with how he governs.

Paterson was Spitzer's lieutenant governor for just 14 months. Before that, he was a Democratic state senator since 1985, representing parts of Harlem and Manhattan's Upper West Side. He would be the first legally blind governor to serve more than a few days in office.