Paterson feared state police unit

May 2, 2008 4:28:20 PM PDT
Governor David Paterson says he admitted past marital affairs in part because he feared an "out-of-control" element in the state police that he says was investigating politicians.But later Friday, he told reporters he had no proof that out-of-control troopers were targeting politicians.

"I don't know that that's actually the case. These are things that are said to me," Paterson told news reporters, after he made the disclosure to the sports program hosts on a radio show.

He said those reports were made by "over 10" lawmakers of both parties statewide about traffic stops and leaks by police to news organizations about brushes with the law. It was the strength of those reports, made shortly after he took office March 17, that prompted the Democratic governor to request an investigation by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo on whether state police were keeping tabs on elected officials.

"He found enough unusual circumstances to look into it," said Paterson, who took office after the resignation of Democrat Eliot Spitzer amid a prostitution scandal. At the time, Paterson said he was reacting to legislators' concerns and a report in the New York Post.

But on Friday in a radio interview with WFAN-AM sports radio in Manhattan, Paterson said he knew these rogue troopers were operating and the concern prompted his extraordinary revelations that he had affairs with women years ago when his marriage was in trouble. He has since reconciled with his wife.

"That was also on my mind when I made my own personal revelations," Paterson said on the radio. "There was obviously an element in the police force and it wasn't Republican or Democrat, it was just out of control people who had power that were clearly monitoring a lot of the elected officials and I was kind of afraid of leaks of inaccurate information about something and that was another thing that pushed me to speak."

Asked to explain the inconsistency between Paterson's statements to the radio station and his later remarks to reporters, spokesman Errol Cockfield said there was no inconsistency and that the governor has always said he was relaying the accounts of others.

State police spokesman Lt. Glenn Miner said Friday state police would cooperate fully.

Spitzer's administration was dogged by a scandal in which top aides instructed to state police to compile - and in some cases, recreate - records tracking the travels of Spitzer's chief political rival.