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Governor slams wave of rumors

2010-02-09T00:20:00Z Governor slams wave of rumorsThe Associated Press The Associated Press
February 09, 2010 12:20 am  • 

ALBANY - New York Gov. David Paterson on Monday lashed back at what he called a "callous and sleazy" assault on his character in statehouse rumors and media reports that include accusations about womanizing and drug use, allegations he flatly denied.

The Democratic governor told The Associated Press that the media and New York politics have hit new lows, but that the situation won't stop him from serving in office or seeking election to a full term in the fall.

He cited as fabricated a Jan. 30 New York Post report that he was caught by state police in the mansion with a woman other than his wife. He said the room in which he was reportedly caught doesn't even exist.

"We stand by our reporting," Post spokeswoman Suzi Halpin said.

The rumors about Paterson's personal conduct have been circulating in Albany - and sometimes appearing online and in newspaper reports - at a crucial moment in the governor's career. His popularity has fallen precipitously, but he has vowed to run for re-election, even though many Democrats would prefer the state attorney general, Andrew Cuomo, to run in his place.

Washington Democrats have sent a clear message that Paterson should step aside for Cuomo. They are concerned that a weak top of the ticket could hurt other Democrats, including Kirsten Gillibrand, whom Paterson appointed to fill the seat vacated when Hillary Clinton became secretary of state.

In his interview with the AP, Paterson would address most allegations only broadly but denied all sexual relationships and drug use that are among the accusations.

He said he hasn't been involved sexually with another woman since he and his wife separated more than a decade ago, an admission he made upon taking office 23 months ago. He also said he hasn't used drugs since his early 20s.

Paterson said the rumors have portrayed him as a fan of frequent partying, but he said that aside from fundraisers and official functions, he doesn't go out much - and noted that he has eaten away from home or outside the executive mansion in Albany only five times in his tenure.

"For the last couple of weeks I have been the subject of what, even by Albany standards, has been a spate of outrageous rumors about me," Paterson told the AP.

He said the rumors had been stirred up by an as-yet unpublished New York Times investigation "that spawned a bunch of speculations that are so way out that it's shocking," he said. He said he now fears that all reporters are "stretching the bounds of journalism" in a race to get anyone to confirm a vicious rumor about him.

New York Times spokeswoman Diane McNulty declined to comment on the governor's remarks.

"There is an accountability that should exist in the media," Paterson said. "How do I get my reputation back? Because I don't believe I have done anything to deserve this kind of bashing."

He said it has distracted him from the state's fiscal crisis and tense budget negotiations with legislators, and from defending his veto of what he considers the Legislature's weak ethics reforms.

He said he is unsure who pushed the rumors and wouldn't speculate, saying "that would be just as unfair ... but it is certainly serving others' interest and not mine, and I think it's a callous and sleazy way to treat a governor who is just trying to do his job and, in a democracy, is trying to keep his job."

Paterson ascended to the job in 2008 when Eliot Spitzer resigned amid a prostitution scandal. When he became governor, Paterson admitted he had been unfaithful to his wife in an attempt to head off questions about his personal life.

He said he doesn't think he was targeted because he is New York's first black governor, but acknowledged that the allegations played to stereotypes about black men.

State Police Superintendent Harry Corbitt said Monday that he's unaware of any troopers, including Paterson's security detail, who have seen the governor do anything illegal. After testifying before lawmakers Monday, Corbett described rumors of a looming scandal as "a move afoot" to pressure the Democrat into not running for election this fall.

Corbitt, who was nominated for his post by Paterson in 2008, says the transfers last week of about 10 troopers from the executive services detail, which protects the governor and guards the executive mansion and some state offices has nothing to do reports suggesting women and drug use at the mansion.

Associated Press writers Michael Virtanen and Valerie Bauman contributed to this report.


Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(7) Comments

    Report Abuse
    TRUTHFULL - February 09, 2010 4:10 pm
    the media is to blame for a lot of the rumors ....they remind me of back when i was 6 or 7 and did something wrong or not ,and my little sister was there to blow the whole story up into a big deal . (she was good with drama)i think my sister is in charge of the media now (at least the editor of the post star seeing as how we dont agree much)
    Report Abuse
    TRUTHFULL - February 09, 2010 4:04 pm
    Well Mr Paterson, You have been an outstanding governer,and i really think you would never have been voted in to office had Spitzer not resigned.
    But i personally think that you being put in office was the best thing for this state .How ironic that a blind man can see so many flaws,wasteful spending,over staffing and many other faults in the system . For a man that just got handed the job, not a week later telling the public on tv that the state is in a very bad situation .
    I can see why he would be disliked by some. they will talk rumors of cheating, stealing ,lieing and sex all to make you look bad , but no matter what they cant take away your honesty ......LET THE RUMORS FLY youll have my vote anyway
  3. Candide
    Report Abuse
    Candide - February 09, 2010 1:28 pm
    I would guess that the source of the rumors was probably one of the 10 state troopers the Gov just had shipped out the other day.
  4. the hermit
    Report Abuse
    the hermit - February 09, 2010 8:56 am
    Just because he doesn't see it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. A common ploy by almost all politicians and rich people with their nose in the air. How does that go now? Don't beleive anything you hear and only half of what you see.?/
    Politics 101
  5. brian
    Report Abuse
    brian - February 09, 2010 8:36 am
    Character assassination at its finest. No one will say anything specific. No one will attach their name to this non-specific rumor. And yet it's a huge deal. It used to be that until there was a story, there was no story. Now the AP is running stories based on Page Six (gossip column) of the NY Post. And you wonder why people are fleeing "mainstream" journalism.

    Or maybe it's the journalism that should be in sarcastic quotes.
  6. Yayaya
    Report Abuse
    Yayaya - February 09, 2010 7:22 am
    Why isn't the story about who is spreading these rumors, instead of the governor's response. Obviously someone one is telling the reporters these rumors, who that is, and who they heard it from should be the story.
  7. samri45
    Report Abuse
    samri45 - February 09, 2010 7:17 am
    Its funny how rumors surface in the midst of the Governor calling for ethics reform,and here,the Post is being used as pawns by all the dirty politicians who are just happy to remain dirty politicians,they seem to be good at shifting the ethics away from them and back to the governor. sorry but I see through your smoke screen and I'm ashamed at the media for reporting drama instead of news.


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