Paterson Vows to Stay in Office


patersonSpeaking before a church congregation in Brooklyn, New York Gov. David A. Paterson declared on Sunday that he was the victim of innuendo and lies and that he would finish his term to “fulfill the mission in which God placed me.”

Talking for 15 minutes to a sympathetic and largely black audience, Mr. Paterson energetically defended his record as governor and fiscal steward, telling the congregation he had tried to look out for “those who live below the line” even while grappling with the need to cut billions of dollars in state spending.

Mr. Paterson said that the state’s fiscal crisis demanded steady leadership and that he had no intention of resigning. He has faced allegations that his administration intervened in a domestic violence case against one of his top aides, David W. Johnson, and he has asked Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo to investigate. Separately, Mr. Cuomo and the Albany district attorney’s office are investigating whether Mr. Paterson perjured himself during an investigation by a state ethics commission into how he obtained tickets for a World Series game at Yankee Stadium.

“I will keep governing to the end of the year, in the spirit of making the tough decisions and trying as hard as I can to fulfill the mission in which God placed me,” Mr. Paterson said.

Much of what the governor said concerned news coverage of accusations against him.

“In the last couple of months, I’ve been the victim of rumor and innuendo, gossip and absolute lies,” Mr. Paterson said. “The term ‘unsubstantiated reports’ used to mean you couldn’t print it. Now it means they put it on the front page.”

He criticized the use of anonymous sources by the news media, which have reported on efforts by members of his administration, including the commander of the governor’s State Police protective detail, to reach out to Mr. Johnson’s ex-friend, Sherr-una Booker. Ms. Booker had sought a protective order against Mr. Johnson after a dispute last October. She stopped pursuing the matter a day after speaking with Mr. Paterson, though the contents of that and other contacts between the administration and her have been in dispute.

Mr. Paterson’s supporters have urged him to respond to those reports with his own side of the story. But on Sunday, he said it would be inappropriate to explain himself publicly.

“People are placed in very difficult positions. But I will do what’s right,” Mr. Paterson said. “And what’s right is that when I do any talking about the circumstances in which I’ve been involved, I will be talking to the investigation, not to the media.”

In his remarks, Mr. Paterson cast his struggles in religious terms. “I shouldn’t be listening to the god of the media,” he said. “I shouldn’t be listening to the god of polls. I shouldn’t be listening to the god of popularity. I shouldn’t be listening to people who are going in a path, rather than leading a path. I should be listening to my own heart.” He added, “If you know the truth, and you want to serve God, then stand before him no matter what happens.”

Mr. Paterson, who is Roman Catholic, rarely makes public appearances at churches, a Sunday ritual for many other elected officials. His visit to the politically influential Cornerstone congregation, in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, will be followed today by a town hall meeting in Downtown Brooklyn to discuss the state budget gap.

Since the allegations surfaced, a number of officials have called for Mr. Paterson to resign. But many others, including some leading black officials and ministers, have urged him to stay on. His supporters say the governor deserves a presumption of innocence.

{NY Times/Noam Newscenter}