Lawmakers Ask AG to Step Aside in Paterson Probe

Cuomo is rumored to be the favorite in the Governor's election in November

Friday, Mar 12, 2010  |  Updated 1:44 PM EDT
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Paterson says he has no plans to step down.

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Paterson and Politics

While Governor Paterson insists there's no reason for him to resign Harlem politicians democratic party officials and investigators are considering his fate.
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Brooklyn Councilman Charles Barron and other community leaders have called on Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to recuse himself from the investigations into Governor David Paterson's activities.

Barron said Sunday that the state Legislature should appoint a neutral investigator to look into whether the governor, his staff and his state police security detail illegally contacted a woman who had accused one of Paterson's aides in a domestic violence incident.
    
Cuomo has not declared his candidacy for governor but is widely considered the favorite in the race.
    
Barron said Cuomo is "the most active undeclared candidate I've ever seen."

Paterson's office declined to comment.  Gov. Paterson attended services Sunday at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Brooklyn.  He told the congregation he was standing firm in office, saying he was "the victim of "rumor, innuendo, and lies."  

He added that he "is not daunted or deterred" telling parishoners that he had hoped to run for re-election but there were "too many distractions."

There has been no immediate response from Cuomo's office over concerns about his leading the Paterson probe. Staying in the investigation gives Cuomo an opportunity to meet his campaign promise of cleaning up Albany. But it could be tricky since his findings will have to be unimpeachable, analysts said.

That's a rare hurdle for Cuomo, who has been untouchable as he refused to say whether he will run for governor while collecting gubernatorial-sized campaign contributions.  He's kept his distance from any campaign mud-slinging, which has been criticized in the media by those who feel Cuomo's playing it too safe by not announcing his run yet.

Paterson, who abandoned his campaign for a full term a week ago, said Friday that he expects to clear his name in the scandal over the aide as well as one over World Series tickets, while complaining that news reports with "unsourced information, rumors and innuendo" were turning the public against him, an assertion he reiterated later Friday.

"Newspapers are looking for stories, investigators are looking for facts," he told reporters at an event at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. "Nobody knows what the future holds, but I have no other plans other than to finish my term."

In a Quinnipiac University poll conducted Wednesday and Thursday, 46 percent of New Yorkers said Paterson should finish his term, down from 61 percent earlier in the week. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.

In any investigation, the attorney general can recuse himself and appoint a special prosecutor with the governor's approval when they believe there is a conflict of interest. Spokesmen for Paterson and Cuomo refused to comment on whether there's a conflict in this investigation. Paterson said this week that he has full confidence in Cuomo's ability to investigate the case.

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