Good to Be Gov's Wife: Michelle Paterson Gets Raise

Friday, Apr 16, 2010  |  Updated 7:43 AM EDT
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Chris Hondros/Staff

Last year was politically rough -- but financially sweet for Gov. David Paterson and his wife.

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Last year was politically rough, yet financially sweet for Gov. David Paterson and the state's First Lady.
 
According to 2009 tax records, Paterson and his wife earned $328,284 — up from $287,446 the year before, thanks to his Michelle Paterson's raise and bonus.

  Democratic Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, on the other hand, saw his political fortunes rise while his income fell to about $144,000, from $398,000 in 2008. That's according to his estimate in applying for an extension.
 
Statewide officials and those running for statewide offices traditionally make their tax returns public each April 15.
 
So far, the Patersons have paid $79,406 in federal taxes, and $34,276 in state and local taxes. The governor must pay an additional $12,652 to the federal government and $2,172 to the state.
 
Tax returns show the governor's wife received 40 percent more last year from Emblem Health Systems, a health insurance company in New York City. She earned $43,786 more in 2009 than the $108,245 she did in 2008.
 
Emblem Health spokeswoman Ilene Margolin said Michelle Paterson's salary was increased after an independent consultant hired by the company to review her duties found her pay to be below similar jobs at other companies. Some of the increase reflected a performance-based bonus.
 
Paterson donated 10 percent of his salary, or $18,000, to the state budget's general fund. He also donated $4,650 to charities in 2009, including $1,500 to domestic violence prevention charities. The governor's office refused to say what month the donations were made.
 
Paterson had to drop plans to run for election after a scandal in which a top aide was accused of domestic violence. Paterson admitted he contacted the woman who accused his aide, David Johnson, of attacking her the day before her court date. She didn't appear in court and the case was dropped.
 
Cuomo is still investigating Paterson in the matter.
 
Cuomo filed an extension for his taxes, but preliminary estimates said he earned $144,000 in 2009. The estimate says he also earned $3,000 in interest, $4,000 in dividends and received $28,000 in capital gains. In 2008, he reported $398,000 in income.
 
Among the candidates for governor, Republican candidate Rick Lazio refuses to provide his tax documents. Democrat-turned-Republican Steve Levy has filed an extension, and a spokeswoman said he estimated owing the federal government about $5,000. Warren Redlich, who is seeking the Republican and Libertarian lines for governor, refused to release his tax returns, calling it a "privacy matter."
 
Cuomo is the presumptive Democratic nominee for governor.
 
Among those expected to run for attorney general, Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, a Westchester County Democrat, declined to immediately release his tax documents, but said he plans to "in due course." Democrat Sean Coffey also said he will release documents later.
 
Among other attorney general hopefuls, Democrat Eric Dinallo filed an extension and Democratic Sen. Eric Schneiderman of Manhattan didn't respond to requests for his return.
 
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, another Democrat weighing an attorney general bid, reported $152,921 in adjusted gross income for 2009. She donated more than $1,500 to charities, including the United Way, St. Judes Children's Research Hospital and the Special Olympics.

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