Staffer Says Gov Told Her "Make This Go Away": Report

Calls for resignation rain down amid burgeoning scandal as Paterson hunkers down in executive mansion

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    New details stoke the fire surrounding Gov. David Paterson.

    One of the women at the center of a ballooning scandal surrounding David Paterson says the governor directed her to call the plaintiff in a domestic-violence case against one of his top aides and tell her to "make this go away," according to a published report.

    State worker Deneane Brown, 42, told investigators Paterson asked her to reach out to Sherr-una Booker, the woman who accused former Paterson aide David Johnson of a violent Halloween night attack, and tell her, "The governor wants you to make this go away," according to the latest in a series of damaging reports by The New York Times.

    Through a spokesman, the governor denied he told Brown to "make this go away" or engage in any attempt to keep Booker quiet.

    Brown, a state worker who is friends with both Paterson and Booker, then contacted Booker via phone and text messages, a person familiar with the state worker's account of events told the Times, but it's not clear what was said in those messages. The day before Booker was due in court to secure a permanent restraining order against Johnson, Brown arranged a phone call between her and Paterson. Booker didn't show up to court on Feb. 8, and the assault case was dropped.

    Brown's account of events is the most detailed description to date of Paterson's alleged role in dispensing the domestic-violence case against one of his top aides. 

    On Monday, the Times reported that Paterson personally directed Brown and another state employee to contact Booker. A Paterson administration official speaking on the condition of anonymity confirmed that Paterson directed the workers to contact Booker, but denied they sought to persuade her to drop her charge or change her story.

    Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, at Paterson's behest, is investigating the circumstances surrounding a phone call between the governor and Booker the day before the case was dropped, and why state police visited the accuser's home.

    Last night, State Police Superintendent Harry Corbitt announced he would step down, becoming the latest casualty of the fireball rapidly consuming Paterson and his diminishing number of allies.

    Corbitt didn't elaborate on the reasons for his abrupt departure, saying only, "I'm a good cop."  

    Meanwhile, the mushrooming fiasco that has ensconced Albany for the last two weeks has an ever-expanding brigade of lawmakers and advocates, eager to address a looming $9 billion deficit, demanding the embattled governor relinquish his post.

    Even Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, whom Paterson personally elevated from upstate obscurity to Washington's Capitol Hill, joined in the escalating cry for his resignation should Cuomo's probe reveal the governor did indeed interfere with the case against his aide. 

    "Domestic violence and abuse have no place in our society," Gillibrand told New York 1 News, "and certainly no place in our government."

    The besieged Paterson, who weeks before the scandal broke pledged the only way he'd leave office would be in a box, has already been forced to drop his election campaign. Despite the rising chorus of calls for his resignation, he insists his intentions in contacting Booker were pure and adamantly stands by his refusal to step down.

    "I don't think that I've been accused of anything," said Paterson. "I really never shied away from the media before and would love to answer these questions but there is an investigation that the Attorney General is conducting. I don't think they would want me to talk about the facts in public because that would be like testifying."

    The governor retains a small cadre of tepid supporters, which includes the likes of powerful Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Democratic State Committee Chairman Jay Jacobs, who say he should be given time as Cuomo investigates the debacle.

    As Paterson prepared for a Wednesday morning session with his Cabinet to discuss the state's $8 billion budget deficit, Lawrence Schwartz, his chief of staff, said the governor is determined to stay on and deal with New York's fiscal woes. He said Paterson planned a full day of meetings with staff and legislative leaders.

    Paterson said Tuesday that he'll soon give his side of the scandal that continues to chip away at his administration.