David Paterson

Paterson: Preet’s Great, But…

Former Gov. David Paterson in a radio interview on Monday qualified his recent criticism of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s tactics, calling the hard-charging prosecutor “fantastic” when it comes to pursuing public corruption.

But at the same time, Paterson criticized Bharara on Fred Dicker’s Talk-1300 radio show for his public comments critical of Albany writ large.

“The U.S. attorney in my opinion has been fantastic,” Paterson said in the interview this morning. “He has an excellent grasp of when to take matters forward and when not to.”

But Paterson, the state Democratic Committee chairman, reiterated his criticism of Bharara, first made on a Binghamton radio station last week.

Paterson noted he’s not the only one to criticize Bharara: A federal judge knocked the prosecutor for public comments made after the arrest of Assemblyman Sheldon Silver on corruption charges, saying they walk “up against the line” of appropriate.

Bharara has criticized what he sees as a culture of pervasive corruption in Albany as well as the so-called “three-men-in-a-room” style of budget negotiations.

“Some of his comments were beyond the pale,” Paterson said. “The way government works is something prosecutors always seem to want to talk about but they’ve never seemed to be in these positions.”

Paterson added: “I think the prosecutors play to the media sometimes.”

Paterson’s comments come as Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos has confirmed he’s cooperating with a federal investigation being conducted by Bhararas office.

The former governor, who led the Senate Democrats as minority leader before running on Eliot Spitzer’s gubernatorial ticket, called the Skelos news “sad.”

A factor in the investigation is Glenwood Management. The New York Times reported last week the company itself is not under investigation, but its longtime principle is Leonard Litwin, a prolific campaign donor.

Paterson praised Litwin as a “gentleman” and “one of the best dressed men you’ll ever meet.”

He also decried the amount of money in politics, which he said has an impact on politicians.

“When people give you a lot of money and they call you on the phone and you’re not listening more clearly than usual, I think you’re kidding yourself,” Paterson said. “You tend to react to people who are filling your campaign coffers.”

Paterson’s own tenure as governor ran afoul of ethics violations, including the acceptance of complimentary Yankees tickets. But Paterson questioned some public corruption cases in general for their level of severity.

“All I’m saying just so people understand — there are crimes, they’re easy to understand, I think some of these charges are so complicated that it’s hard to figure out if they’re crimes or ethics violations that the person should be punished, but not put behind bars,” Paterson said.

Paterson To Legislature: Practice What You Preach On Transparency

At 6:24 p.m., a statement from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Communications Director Melissa DeRosa landed in my inbox, declaring that the governor will be calling a meeting with legislative leaders plus the state attorney general and comptroller to come up with “one uniform email retention and FOIL policy that applies to all state officials and agencies.”

At 6:26 p.m., a letter from former Gov. David Paterson to Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie followed DeRosa’s statement. In it, Paterson, who – thanks to Cuomo – is now serving as chairman of the state Democratic Party, accused the Legislature of “breathtaking” hypocrisy when it comes to the subject of transparency.

Paterson said he was motivated to write his letter after reading about the proposals introduced today by members of the Senate and Assembly that would block the governor’s controversial 90-day email purge policy and establish an up to seven-year retention policy based on the system already in place in the federal government.

“It feels to me like Albany’s version of the movie Groundhog Day,” Paterson wrote of the transparency debate. “It should really be titled ‘Transparency for Others’ and it must be the 1000th legislative proposal on ‘transparency’ slated to go nowhere.”

“Indeed in truth the hypocrisy of the legislature on this topic is breathtaking. Neither the Assembly nor Senate is yet subject to FOIL – a decades old reform almost every credible government in the country follows. There is no transparency in the State Senate. Senators and Assembly members have no email policy whatsoever. They can delete any email and dispose of every piece of paper. Even Washington, D.C. is better.”

Paterson, who served 22 years in the Legislature and was the first black legislative leader (Senate minority leader) before departing to become Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s LG, urged the Senate Democratic conference he used to lead to follow through on this issue and not be “press release reformers.” (The bill Sen. Liz Krueger and Assemblyman Danny O’Donnell have introduced would subject the Legislature to FOIL for the first time).

“In truth the Democrats know that we never passed these measures when we were in power and the Assembly Democrats know also that they could pass such measures if they ever wanted to,” Paterson wrote.

“The Senate minority should voluntarily agree now to FOIL and agree to keep records and make their documents available to the public. Let them agree to keep their emails for 90 days or permanently as they propose for others and subject them to FOIL. If the Senate minority enacted this policy, it would soon force the Republican majority to accept it. If the Senate did it, the Assembly would be forced to follow. That’s how change occurs.”

“Otherwise, today’s proposal will be another false gesture to appear as a reformer but to act like the same old recalcitrant Senate. Indeed if the Senate minority is not willing to practice what it preaches, my advice is it better not preach.”

Earlier today, AG Eric Schneiderman announced that he has decided to suspend the 90-day purge policy in his office, which was put into place in 2007 by his predecessor, Cuomo. The state comptroller’s office never embraced this policy and has no plans to do so any time soon, according to the comptroller’s spokeswoman.

Paterson: Odds Dems Take Senate ‘Too Close To Call’

Former Gov. David Paterson, the chairman of the state Democratic Party, is a little more bullish these days on a full Democratic takeover of the state Senate.

Well, sort of: He’s gone from not going to happen to “too close to call.”

Paterson, a former Senate minority leader before being chosen as Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s running mate in 2006, in May at the state convention said he didn’t want to “raise expectations” and pointed to the failed “six and change” strategy of taking the chamber out of Republican hands.

“I don’t necessarily think that has to happen,” Paterson said at the time. “…when you have less resources…you have to have a plan that’s sometimes more pragmatic than hopeful.”

But today, at the state Democrats’ annual fall meeting at the Desmond Hotel in Colonie, Paterson was a little more open to the party’s chances.

He pointed to an aggressive get-out-the-vote effort the party is launching which will include a combination of targeted digital advertising and door knocking.

“I think because of a very coordinated effort the state party is making, their whole ability to drill down on voters makes this election too close to call right now who will take the Senate,” Paterson said.

The Senate is currently controlled by a coalition of five independent Democrats and Republicans.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in May pledged to help the party gain full control of the Senate after receiving the endorsement of the state Working Families Party.

Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in June brokered a new coalition agreement between the mainline conference and the IDC that will form after Election Day.

Paterson: Low Turnout Raised Volume Of Cuomo Dissenters

Former Gov. David Paterson, the state Democratic Committee chairman, downplayed the percentage of the vote received by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s rival in Tuesday’s party primary, blaming it on low turnout that drew critics of the incumbent.

Paterson, in a statement Wednesday afternoon, said the votes received by both Fordham Law School professor Zephyr Teachout and Columbia University professor Tim Wu — both of whom exceeded pundit expectations by clearing 30 percentage points — was due to Cuomo detractors: Mainly disgruntled public employees and teachers as well as anti-hydrofracking advocates.

Paterson said those types of advocacy voters “have the loudest voice” when turnout is low.

“In yesterday’s primary with so few contested races on the ballot and no real competition for the Governor’s race we saw surprisingly low turnout from Democrats – only about 10 percent of the over five million Democrats registered in New York showed up to the polls,” Paterson said in a statement released by the party. “When less people vote, the most passionate groups have the loudest voice and both the map and numbers showed exactly that. Voters opposed to fracking, and certain public employee unions unhappy with their contracts and teacher evaluations were the most motivated in this primary.”

Cuomo argued on Tuesday after voting that his supporters were “passionate” as well and insisted, once again, that the only percentage he was seeking was 51 percent.

Both Cuomo and his running mate, Kathy Hochul, secured high vote margins in their geographic bases: western New York and New York City and its suburbs.

The little-known Teachout and Wu, however, did well in upstate counties, many of them rural.

But Paterson today argues that not too much should be read into the Teachout-Wu campaign’s marshaling the Cuomo dissenters enrolled as Democrats who were interested enough in the less-than-10-percent turnout primary to vote.

The former governor says being the state’s chief executive, especially an effective one like Cuomo, inevitably results in becoming estranged from certain segments.

“As a former governor, I know that making responsible decisions does not make everyone happy. Governor Cuomo’s record is one we as a party can be proud of because he had the courage to make the right decisions, even if they came with some political cost,” Paterson said. “In this instance, negotiating a responsible contract with PEF with three zeros when our state faced a multi-billion deficit, reforming a pension system that has been bankrupting local governments, creating accountability for teachers in our schools and putting science ahead of passion on fracking played a role in the primary and an even more important role in putting New York State back on the right track.”

And then Paterson pivots back to the general election, criticizing Astorino’s stances on social issues:

“As we turn to the general election, this is a strong case for Democrats to make, particularly in the face of opposition that caters to the other farthest extreme. The stakes are high: a choice between a governor with a progressive record who is fixing the economy and standing up for equality, and an extremist who’s being sued for housing discrimination and has a record on social issues that would makes Rick Santorum smile. We have the fortune of facing Republicans, whose positions and proposals are vastly out of step with the electorate and our base, including constituencies who came out in force in the primary. Now we must bring our case to the people.”

Cuomo has often argued that despite noisy protests over a certain policy, the broad majority of the state is with him when it comes to achieving results. His critics are on the margins of the broader opinion of the state, Cuomo says, and adds many often pay more attention to the palace intrigue of the Albany bubble and not the larger picture.

Cuomo certainly would want to end a post-primary narrative that suggests he doesn’t have the support of liberals in his state or that he’s got a problem with unifying the Democratic Party heading into a general election in which he would like to post a substantial margin of victory.

Paterson: ‘Two Republican States’ (Updated)

Former Gov. David Paterson, now the chairman of the New York Democratic Committee, noted in a statement the disparity between Republican standard bearer Rob Astorino’s economic development plan and Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos touted his conference’s economic record in an open letter.

“Rob Astorino put out an economic statement today and Senator Dean Skelos put out an open letter to New Yorkers,” Paterson said in a statement released by state Democrats. “They are both fascinating reading although totally inconsistent as if they live in different states. Senator Skelos’ letter says the state is doing great and jobs are up and taxes are down and celebrates four years of great accomplishment. Upstate is doing great and education is advancing. The state is winning! I agree. Senator Skelos happened to omit the one name most responsible for this success, namely Governor Cuomo. However, Rob Astorino must live in a different state because he thinks the state is doing terribly. He thinks New York is losing and needs radical reform. It really is a tale of two Republican states.”

The Astorino agenda and one backed by Senate Republicans isn’t mutually exclusive, of course.

The plan released by Astorino, of course, isn’t something that Republicans in Albany would have a hard time embracing: He wants to double down on the property tax cap by making it permanent, he favors stripping away and streamlining regulations and backs high-volume hydrofracking of natural gas.

But in classic triangulation, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has made his achievements at the Capitol the same success story Senate Republicans can tell, even as the GOP conference tries to keep Democrats from gaining full control of the chamber.

Senate Republicans, unlikely in 2012, will likely not be including Cuomo in their campaign ads and literature.

Cuomo, who in May announced he supported a full takeover of the state Senate by his party, has since played nice with Skelos in public, most notably including him on a high-profile trip to Israel last week.

That’s not to say Democrats are working hard to drive a wedge between the Senate GOP and the Astorino camp.

There was a flare up in the relationship in June, when Astorino’s top political advisor, Bill O’Reilly, openly criticized Senate Republicans for compromising with Cuomo and even considered running for a vacant seat.

Updated: State Republican Committee spokesman David Laska responds.

“Politicians who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Only one candidate for Governor is facing a challenge from within his own party: Andrew Cuomo. Andrew Cuomo’s New York is ranked dead last fiftieth in tax climate, business-friendliness and outmigration, and even many Democrats are tired of his schtick. That’s why over 45,000 of them signed petitions for Cuomo’s primary challenger.”

Paterson Blasts Astorino’s Christie Statements

He didn’t call him “little Robbie” this time, but former Gov. David Paterson in a statement from the state Democratic Committee blasted the comments by GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino as “reckless, irresponsible” for suggesting Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Gov. Chris Christie were conspiring to not support the Republican’s campaign.

Astorino on Fred Dicker’s Talk-1300 radio show earlier today said Christie should step down as head of the Republican Governors Association if he was too closely tied to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Christie, the RGA chairman, has said he has no plans to campaign for Astorino.

But Astorino suggested in the radio interview that if Cuomo and Christie had cut a “side deal” then he shouldn’t be in the position of helping Republicans run for governor.

“If there’s a side deal or a quid pro quo or a handshake between the two of them, he can’t do his job,” Astorino said of Christie.

“Maybe there’s an issue we don’t know about,” he added.

Paterson, the Democratic committee’s chairman, called the comments “not fitting” for a candidate for governor.

“I read Rob Astorino’s quotes calling for Governor Christie to step down from the RGA, and alleging a cover up on Bridgegate as a reason for Christie’s lack of support for Astorino,” Paterson said. “That is a reckless, irresponsible accusation to make with no basis whatsoever, and not fitting for a qualified Gubernatorial candidate. Maybe that’s why his candidacy is not being taken seriously.”

It’s Getting Mean

A statement released under state Democratic Party Chairman David Paterson’s name on Tuesday blasted GOP candidate for governor Rob Astorino and even brought up the 20-year-old police corruption conviction of his father.

The statement knocks Astorino for allegedly attempting to secure the endorsement of the Westchester Independence Party in 2013, alludes to his top advisor referring to Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos as a “prison punk” and — naturally! — doesn’t fail to mention Republican Chairman Ed Cox’s father-in-law is the late Richard Nixon.

“Now it all makes sense. Yesterday, Rob Astorino was talking about cleaning up Albany because he knew today he was going to be charged with being dirty: voter fraud, election fraud and racketeering. His top spokesman Bill O’Reilly clearly had prison cells on his mind yesterday because he knew this case was gong to the District Attorney. Just last week, Rob was attacking ‘convicted felons’ because his father – a convicted felon – was about to be charged as his accomplice in a RICO suit. Nixon’s son-in-law Ed Cox clearly picked Astorino because all of this is a story of corruption that made him feel right at home. Just like old times! A Westchester judge just found 3,700 cases of voter fraud and removed them from the party. It was a gross example of the worst kind of political corruption. Clean up Albany, not with little Robbie’s dirty hands.”

Granted, Astorino’s campaign has accused Cuomo and his girlfriend, Food Network star Sandra Lee, of skirting property tax laws by not having a proper permits completed for renovations on the home they share in Westchester as well as barring an assessor from viewing the home’s interior.

Nevertheless, it’s heated rhetoric — attributed to a courtly former governor — for a governor’s race that shows the incumbent Democrat comfortably ahead in the polls.

Paterson: Dem Senate Takeover Doesn’t Have to Happen This Year

Newly minted state Democratic Chairman David Paterson weighed in this afternoon on the effort by his former colleagues in the Senate minority to re-take the majority, saying it’s “possible” but not necessary in this election cycle.

“It’s possible, but I don’t want to raise expectations,” said Paterson, who noted that he lowered expectations when he took over the Democratic conference in 2002, ending the idea that the minority needed to win six seats all in one fell swoop.

“I don’t necessarily think that has to happen,” the former governor continued. “…when you have less resources…you have to have a plan that’s sometimes more pragmatic than hopeful.”

This is not in keeping with the message being put out by DSCC Chairman Mike Gianaris, who has been insisting that the Democrats have a good shot at winning enough seats to take back the majority.

Paterson also spoke of the need to unify the Democratic Party, and he praised the IDC, saying that its members “understood the budget crisis better” than their fellow conference members back when he was in the governor’s office.

“Especially in the marginal areas, we need those voices,” Paterson said, stressing that he would, of course, like to see the IDC members return to the fold because “they won on the Democratic line.”

He said he has not yet had a chance to speak to IDC Leader Jeff Klein about the possibility of a reunification – a move that seems unlikely at this point, since the regular Democrats are supporting primary challengers against two IDC members. (Former NYC Councilman Oliver Koppell vs. Klein and former NYC Comptroller John Liu vs. Sen. Tony Avella).

Paterson said he needs to speak to the members of the statewide ticket – AG Eric Schneiderman, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and Gov. Andrew Cuomo – before settling on “what the important races are this year.”

The former governor compared the Democratic Party to the Miami Heat, saying that when a team has been on a long winning streak, “you want to keep wining…but often there’s a surge to defeat you.”

Paterson: ‘So You Thought You Were Rid Of Me’

Former Gov. David Paterson on Wednesday was formally installed by the state Democratic Committee as its next chairman, assuming the post from Harlem Assemblyman Keith Wright.

Paterson, addressing the delegates on the first day of the Democratic convention here in Melville, naturally opened with a joke.

“So you thought you were rid of me,” Paterson said.

A woman in the crowd yelled, “We love you David.”

Paterson, not missing a beat, said: “Give it a few minutes.”

It was only four years ago that Paterson declined to run for re-election as Democrats in the state coalesced around Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

Now Paterson is assuming a more overtly political role for Cuomo, and his speech reflected that, hitting on similar themes the state party wants to get across at the convention.

Democrats are trying to tie state Republicans in New York to national “tea party” GOP lawmakers in Washington.

“I actually could like Republicans if they were really Republicans,” Paterson said, charging that today’s GOP has “extremists on one side of the party are controlling the whole.”

Paterson pointed to Republicans of the past like Sen. Jacob Javits who were more moderate in their politics.

“We respect their point of view,” Paterson said of mainstream Republicans. “I’m talking about an insensitive point of view that is based on a hateful ideology.”

And he knocked Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino for presiding over one of the highest taxed counties in the nation.

“This is like getting Bernie Madoff to run the SEC,” he said.

There were still moments of Paterson being Paterson, including a brief aside when his cell phone.

“My phone just rang,” he said mid-speech, “I wonder who it was.”

He did not answer the phone.

Paterson’s Portrait To Be Unveiled Sunday

Former Gov. David Paterson will have his official portrait unveiling on Sunday, according to an invitation for the event obtained by Capital Tonight.

The event is expected to include Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is listed as a “special guest.”

The unveiling is due to take place at 2:30 p.m. in the War Room of the state Capitol on the second floor.

With Paterson’s portrait going up and the recent additions of likenesses of former Govs. George Pataki and Mario Cuomo, Eliot Spitzer is the only modern-era governor to not have his likeness hanging in the Hall of Governors on the second floor.

Paterson, the state’s first black governor and the only legally blind one to serve, was elevated to the office following the resignation of Spitzer in the midst of a prostitution scandal.

It is a remarkably fast turnaround for Paterson’s portrait to be unveiled, considering he left office in 2011 and was even discussing the possibility of a portrait two years ago.

It is unclear who paid for the portrait (it’s traditional for supporters of former governors to raise the funds necessary to cover the cost) and who painted it.

Governor David Paterson Invitation – March 2 2014 (2) by Nick Reisman