Outgoing New York Gov. David Paterson must pay a fine of $62,125 for accepting five complimentary World Series tickets in 2009, the New York State Commission on Public Integrity announced earlier this week. Paterson, the commission found, knew he had violated state law and then refused to admit it under oath. “The moral and ethical tone of any organization is set at the top. Unfortunately the Governor set a totally inappropriate tone by his dishonest and unethical conduct. Such conduct cannot be tolerated by any New York State employee, particularly our Governor,” Michael Cherkasky, chair of the commission, said.
Since the Yankees are an entity that has “myriad and continuing business and financial interests that relate to New York State government,” Paterson would have had to perform a public function at the game to escape ethics scrutiny. He admittedly did not and later tried to both pay for the tickets and claim that he didn’t actually want those tickets. “By his own admission, the Governor did not speak at the opening ceremonies of Game One and was not even recognized by name during the public address announcement recognizing the public officials who were present,” the Commission said in its findings.
Paterson’s lawyers of course refuted the claim, but it’s unclear if the governor will try to fight the charges. “The commission has wildly misrepresented the facts, exceeded its legal authority and generally confirmed what has long been obvious: that these proceedings were always about a political witch hunt and never about the truth,” lawyer Ted Wells said in statement. Based on the evidence compiled by the commission, it’s going to be an uphill battle for the beleaguered state pol, and Paterson may still be facing a state probe over perjury concerns.