More demands for Governor Paterson to resign

March 3, 2010 7:45:51 AM PST
Add the New York Times to the list of those calling for the resignation of Governor David Paterson.This comes with more revelations about the governor's attempts to block an assault complaint made against one of his closest aides.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is now calling for the governor to step down as well, if the allegations against him are proven true.

It appears that the governor's inner-circle is shrinking and his governorship may be unraveling.

Paterson told Eyewitness News on Tuesday night that he will not step down.

"I have done nothing wrong," Paterson told reporter Dave Evans outside his mansion in Albany.

He has scheduled an 11 a.m. meeting in Albany with his Cabinet and dozens of agency heads.

The embattled governor was hunkered down all day Tuesday, trying to stay private amid new damning public revelations about his involvement in a domestic abuse case involving senior aide David Johnson.

The pressured on the governor increased after word came late Tuesday that New York State Police Superintendent Harry Corbitt is abruptly retiring effective Wednesday amid the scandal.

Corbitt announced his retirement late Tuesday on Capital News 9 and didn't give a reason. He is the second law enforcment official claimed by the scandal.

Corbitt has acknowledged that a police official had contact with a woman who had accused a top Paterson aide of roughing her up last fall in the Bronx. Soon after, the woman dropped her case against Johnson.

Corbitt's boss, Deputy Secretary for Public Safety Denise O'Donnell, resigned a week ago. She said direct contact by the governor and troopers with the woman was "unacceptable" regardless of their intent.

Paterson has publicly admitted that he had a brief conversation with Johnson's ex-girlfriend, Sherruna Booker, on February 7th, but he has released virtually no details about what he knew of the case or any subsequent contact by members of his administration.

Now, sources confirm that Paterson in fact asked his Press Secretary Marissa Shorenstein to phone Booker, but another administration aide, directed by the governor, did have several conversations with Booker and was the intermediary for the discussion with Governor Paterson on February 7th. We don't know what was said.

"Why did he make that phone call? Why is he reaching out? If I'm a defense attorney, I'm going to say that it was an innocuous call," former prosecutor Mark Panzavecchia said.

Panzavecchia believes any potential criminal case will largely hinge on what Booker is willing to tell the attorney general.

We already know the incident which sparked the widening scandal began Halloween night at an apartment in the Bronx. Booker called 911 at 10:00 p.m. on October 31st and police responded.

On November 2nd, Booker got a temporary order of protection against Johnson and told a court referee she had been called and harassed by state troopers to drop the charges. She appeared in court again November 4th.

On February 8th, one day after that phone conversation with Governor Paterson, Booker failed to show up in court and her domestic violence case was dismissed.

David Paterson discussed his political future with the head of the state's Democratic Party on Tuesday, hours after the National Organization for Women joined the voices urging him to resign because of a report that he had staff members contact a woman about her allegation of abuse by a top aide.

Paterson still has his side of the story to tell, and it "explains an awful lot," said State Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs, who met with him at the governor's mansion.

"I did not get the sense that the governor is considering resignation, that resignation is pending," Jacobs said, who was picked for the job by Paterson, a longtime friend.

"There shouldn't be any more shoes to drop," he said, referring to the New York Times articles that have reported on the case. "The sense I got from him is there won't be."

NOW is highly influential in Democratic politics and called for the governor's resignation despite what it considers Paterson's "excellent" record of strong support for women's issues and in combating domestic violence.

"It is inappropriate for the governor to have any contact or to direct anyone to contact an alleged victim of violence," said Marcia Pappas, president of NOW New York State. "This latest news is very disappointing for those of us who believed the governor was a strong advocate for women's equality and for ending violence against women."

"It is now time for the governor to step down," she said in the written statement.

Some leading Democrats have said he should resign to avoid further damage to the party in the 2010 elections.

Even Democratic U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, whom Paterson appointed to the seat last year, said Tuesday that he would have to resign if allegations that he abused his power are proven true.

But as the day progressed, Paterson started collecting rare support, too, unseen in more than three weeks of scandal that forced him to end his campaign for a full term on Friday.

Five Latino legislators, all Democrats, met with Paterson about budget appropriations and the needs of their communities, then approached reporters waiting outside the mansion.

"No one has criticized the governor more than I have," said Sen. Ruben Diaz of the Bronx. "Right now, we are supporting the governor to stay until the investigation is resolved."