Gov. David Paterson says he plans to clear his name in thescandals threatening his administration and he has no intention of stepping down.
"I don't have any plans to resign," he said at an impromptu Q&A on the sidewalk in front of his midtown offices. "I am working on the business of the people of New York state, the most urgent of which is a budget, that's deficit ... at a certain point I will cooperate with the investigations and will be clearing my name."
Paterson says he'll speak with the attorney general's office and the Public Integrity Commission to present his side of the story. He didn't comment on yesterday's resignation of Communications Director Peter Kauffmann.
Later in the evening, Paterson appeared at the opening of the Palm Restaurant in JFK Airport's terminal four and defiantly addressed reporters again, saying that stepping down now would set a dangerous precendent for democracy.
"I would say that in our system of government to step down from office over unproved allegations would create a new level of vulnerability to government officials that would be chaotic for the people of this state or any other to endure," said Paterson. "I am not going to resign and i am going to get the opportunity to address the allegations that are before me and redeem myself."
He also claimed he had the support of state leaders.
"I appreciate the leaders from all around the state who have encouraged me, including the four leaders of the legislature, whom I’ve spoke with all within the last hour," he said.
Interestingly, Paterson noted the difficult time he had in the wake of the Spitzer scandal, as yet another reason not to step aside.
"I took office just two years ago after the sudden resignation of a governor, and I had very, very difficult time trying to put a budget together, and i wouldn’t want to put anyone else through that," he said.
The good-government group Common Cause, which has supported Paterson, called for his resignation earlier in the day, saying the scandals are distracting him from addressing the state's fiscal crisis.
Paterson advisers disagree over what the impact will be of Thurrsday night's meeting in Harlem, where prominent black leaders met to discuss their stance on the governor's future. After the meeting, Rev. Al Sharpton expressed a tentative vote of confidence by the group of mostly black leaders at Sylvia's restaurant last night.
The governor's office has even announced that he would hold a Town Hall meeting on Monday in Brooklyn -- ostensibly, to discuss the budget.
Despite the public facade, however, some believe the Harlem group and others have intentionally supported Paterson so that he could appear to be making a decision to step down on his own.
"The one thing you don't want to do with this guy is back him up against a wall," said one powerful Paterson adviser. "The fact that this group felt it was necessary to come together for another meeting at Sylvia's sent David the message and he understands how tenuous this is."
Sources agreed that provoking Paterson's more stubborn side in the midst of more bad news stories would not be a good strategy.
Sources say the Governor worked the phones yesterday afternoon and evening to plead with black leaders to give him some time to get out his side of the story. Paterson told them he does not believe he did anything wrong. One adviser said Paterson's lawyer needed a chance to figure out the best way to respond to the accusations.
Some of Paterson's allies tell NBCNewYork.com that the Governor has told them Sherr-Una Booker repeatedly called him, in part to explain that she was not spreading nasty rumors about him. At the time Paterson is accused of calling Ms. Booker, there were rumors in Albany that she had been conveying stories about Paterson's sex life to The New York Times. Whatever the explanation, Paterson is under considerable pressure from Democratic Party officials to get his side of the story out.
David Johnson, the Paterson aide accused of the domestic violence incident at the center of this scandal, is starting to get his side out. His new lawyer issued a statement Friday maintaining Johnson's innocence.
One source who spoke to Paterson on Friday morning said that the hope is for Paterson to be able to serve out the rest of his term and do the job as well as he possibly can.
The source noted that would of course depend on how well he can work with the legislature, which has been a major challenge for every governor.