Paterson demands:Facts, not fiction
NAYABA ARINDE and HERB BOYD | 4/12/2011, 5:26 p.m.
Each day, since the New York Times began a series of articles on Gov. David Paterson's aide David Johnson, accused of domestic violence, the situation gets a little graver for the embattled governor.
It is time the governor gets his story out there, said Jay Jacobs, New York State Democratic Party Chair, in a recent interview. "It is very important that the governor act expeditiously to get his side of the story out," he said.
While in all his public statements the governor has assured the world that he has no intention of succumbing to the pressure to resign, Paterson is also maintaining his position of not commenting further while the matter is being probed. Speaking to the AmNews on Wednesday morning, he said, "The media outlets know that I can't comment on an ongoing investigation, yet they write that I must comment. So they obviously think that they are more important than the attorney general's investigation.
"The media wants a story; the investigation wants facts."
In a recent development, after Paterson's breakfast forum Monday in which he charged he was the "victim of hysteria," it was disclosed by a team of Times reporters that he asked his press secretary and another woman close to the abused to intercede.
The Times claims Paterson ordered two state employees to contact the woman who had accused Johnson of assaulting her, "according to two people with direct knowledge of the governor's actions."
And it has been a string of unrevealed informants, people supposedly familiar or close to the case, that has been the touchstone of what the governor concludes are "unsubstantiated sources." However, there have been enough allegations surrounding the affair to force Paterson to end his reelection campaign.
To conclude anything from an ongoing investigation, one in which Paterson himself requested that Attorney General Andrew Cuomo conduct, is risky and foolhardy. The series of articles in the Times leaves so much room for speculation where facts of the case are vitally needed.
Who called who and what was discussed remains undisclosed, and will not be officially known until the investigation is over or Sherr-una Booker decides she's ready to tell the whole story.
Here's what we think we know: Last Halloween, Johnson allegedly attacked Booker in their apartment, bruising her and stopping her from calling the police. Subsequently, Booker obtained an order of protection against Johnson. During her first court date, the mainstream media reported that she said she had been approached by the state police, who sought to stop her from appearing in court. In between court dates, Booker was approached by Paterson's aides, the Times reported, and allegedly it's those phone conversations that are at the crux of the case.
Irrefutable facts about the case include two significant resignations: Last week, upon hearing of the governor's reported involvement in a domestic violence case, Denise O'Donnell, deputy secretary of public safety, resigned in protest. And on Tuesday, State Police Superintendent Harry Corbitt announced his retirement.
A source close to the governor's office told the AmNews, however, that the story being told is incredibly convoluted. Contrary to published reports, from the onset it was Booker, the high-placed source said, who actually called the governor to assure him and his wife, Michelle, that she was not the source of the malicious rumors circulating in the press, and that she was being harassed by Times reporters who had gotten into her house when she was not home and obtained her phone number from her underaged son. The governor, the source maintained, has been merely trying to respect and protect the woman. To illustrate the point, the source added that a Times article published on February 25 noted the governor had made a complaint to the Times editorial board on February 8 on behalf of the woman.