TIMELINE: A Tumultuous Turn In The Governor's Seat

A Timeline of David Paterson's Political Career

By Katie Honan
|  Friday, Mar 5, 2010  |  Updated 12:25 PM EDT
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TIMELINE: A Tumultuous Turn In The Governor's Seat

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New York Gov. David Paterson

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Gov. David Paterson announced the end of his week-long campaign for a full term, setting an end date on what has been an short but interesting tenure as Governor of New York.

His career in brief:
 
1985: David Paterson is elected to the Senate in the 29th District of New York--the same Manhattan district that his father, Basil, served as a Senator.  He became the youngest State Senator in Albany, serving as senator until 2007.
 
November 20th, 2002: Paterson is elected by the Democratic caucus as the Minority Leader, becoming the first non-white state legislative leader and the highest-ranking black elected official in the history of New York State. 
 
2006: New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer chooses David Paterson as his running mate for the Governor's office.  Paterson trades the powerful Senate Majority Leader position--for which he was poised to take--for the Lt. Governor post, which is largely ceremonial. 
 
November 2006: Eliot Spitzer defeats Republican John Faso in a landslide victory to become Governor of New York. 
 
March 10th, 2008: The New York Times reports that Governor Eliot Spitzer was a patron of a high-end prostitution service called the Emperors Club VIP.  "Client 9", as Spitzer was called in court papers, appeared briefly in front of reporters.
 
March 12th, 2008: Eliot Spitzer resigns as governor, effective five days later.
 
March 17th, 2008: Lt. Governor David Paterson is sworn in at the New York Capitol as the 55th Governor of New York.  In his inauguration speech, he says: "Let me reintroduce myself. I am David Paterson and I am the Governor of New York State. ”
 
March 18th, 2008:  In a joint press conference, Paterson and his wife Michelle both admit to extramarital affairs.  The Governor admits to multiple liaisons with several women for several years starting in 1999, including a woman on the state payroll.  Paterson also stated that he visited the Days Inn on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for trysts, and that he and his wife also visited the same hotel to try "new and exciting things" to save their marriage.  
 
March 25th, 2008: Paterson tells former NY1 News anchor Dominic Carter that he tried cocaine "a couple of times" when he was in his early 20s.  He also said he hasn't "touched marijuana since the late '70s." 
 
December 1st, 2008: President-Elect Barack Obama announced he would nominate New York Sen. Hillary Clinton to Secretary of State, leaving a vacant seat in New York.
 
December 3rd, 2008: Reports state Governor Paterson had a conversation with Caroline Kennedy about the possibility of her taking Clinton's Senate seat.  Critics would point out Kennedy's lack of experience in politics, and accused her of riding on her political last name.   
 
"We talked about a number of things, and the seat did come up in the conversation," Paterson said, although he was unsure at the time if she was actually serious about the position.
 
This was the beginning of what Chris Smith of New York Magazine called "the defining circus of [Paterson's] rookie year in office."
 
January 12th, 2009: Paterson's selection process for the Senate seat is criticized as being too secretive, going against the Governor's promise to keep an open government. 
 
Paterson refuses to release the list of "about 10" people he is considering for the job.  He wont release the blank questionnaire he sent to each candidate for background information.  His office says "the process is confidential." 
  
January 21st, 2009: Caroline Kennedy abruptly withdraws from the Senate appointment with a phone call to Paterson.  She cites "personal" reasons for her decision. 
 
January 23rd, 2009: Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand, who represents an upstate New York district, is appointed by Governor
Paterson as Hilary Clinton's successor in the Senate to replace Hillary Clinton as New York's junior Senator.  
 
The selection process for Senate shined a light on what many felt was Paterson's indecisiveness and inefficiency.  Many felt he had yet to establish himself as a leader in the Democratic party. 
 
March 23, 2009: A Siena Poll finds Governor Paterson's approval rating at just 19%
 
June 8th, 2009: In one of the more bizarre days in New York political history, Republicans in the State Senate--in the minority  by two votes--arrange for a coup in power.  Two Democrats, Hiram Monserrate and Pedro Espada, Jr., defect to the Republican side and  voted to replace the Majority Leader and Temporary President of the Senate.  Governor Paterson tries to force the Senate into action by withholding the Senator's salary, but the Senate remains deadlocked. 
 
July 8th, 2009: David Paterson appoints Richard Ravitch as Lieutenant Governor in an effort to break to the deadlock.  He is sworn in at Peter Luger's Steakhouse in Brooklyn.  Senate coup leader Pedro Espada Jr., tries to sue to prevent the appointment.
 
July 9th, 2009: Espada returns to the Democratic side, returning them to a 32-30 majority in the Senate. 
 
July 21st, 2009: New York Supreme Court Justice William R. LaMarca issues a primary injunction to prevent Ravitch from
performing any duties of the office.  On August 20th, the Appellate Division's Second Department unanimously rules that the appointment of Ravitch was unlawful because "no provision of the Constitution or of any statute provides for the filling of a vacancy in the office of lieutenant governor other than by election.
 
September 22, 2009: The New York Court of Appeals, the highest court in New York, rules that the Governor's selection is lawful and a governor may appoint a lieutenant governor in the event of a vacancy.
 
January 18th, 2010: A Page Six report from the New York Post reports the Governor was seen "nuzzling" and "cooing like a smitten schoolboy" with a woman who was not his wife inside a New Jersey steakhouse.  Paterson says he and the woman are just friends. 
 
January 30th, 2010: Another Post item says a state trooper accidental walked in on Paterson hugging another woman who wasn't his wife in a closet at the governor's mansion. 
 
February 5th, 2010: Political reporters all around the city are put into a frenzy as rumors of a damaging New York Times article on the Governor is in the works, set to "Spitzerize" Paterson.  Many say it will force the Governor to resign.
 
February 9th, 2010: Paterson responds to the Times story, saying the paper interview him but didn't ask any questions about the alleged scandal.
 
He writes a letter to the Times, admonishing them for failing to stop the speculation on the story.  On Don Imus' radio show, Paterson says "For a person who has such weak poll numbers, that hasn't raised enough money and has diminishing political support, someone is going very far out of their way to see that I am not a candidate this year," the governor said, blaming the media and special interest groups for attacking his campaign.
 
"I'm black, I'm blind and I'm still alive... Now how much better do they want me to be?"
 
February 16th, 2010: The New York Times publishes their story, "Paterson Aide's Quick Rise Draws Scrutiny."  Many criticize the paper for over-hyping a story, which profiles Paterson's driver, David Johnson, aka DJ, and his suspicious rise to power.  They bring up his two cleared youth offender arrests.  Gawker says: "Tell all your friends: Paterson's closest adviser is sort of a thug. The great phantom David Paterson scandal of 2010 ends with a whimper... maybe?"
 
February 20th, 2010: Paterson kicks off his campaign for Governor to a crowd of 400 at Hofstra University, his Alma mater. 
"You need to know that this is a governor who does not quit," he says, selling himself as the underdog in the race.  The next day he attends another campaign event in Rochester.
 
February 24th, 2010: Governor Paterson abruptly suspends David Johnson and asks Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to investigate claims that State Police tried to "improperly influence" a woman Johnson allegedly attacked.  His aides admit that Paterson was in contact with the woman, telling her he "was here for her."  Although Paterson claimed the woman called him, sources came out and said Paterson was the first to make contact with the woman.

February 25th, 2010: Public Safety Deputy Denise O'Donnell resigns, citing the developing scandal in the administration.
 
That night, Paterson speaks to reporters as rumors float around of his possible resignation.  He states that he will continue his campaign for Governor.
 
February 26th, 2010: Governor David Paterson announces he will be dropping out of the race, saying he can't run for governor and be governor at the same time.
 
"I believe that when the facts are reviewed, the truth will prevail," he says, adding, "There are 308 days left in my term.  I will serve every one of them fighting for the people of New York."
 
March 3, 2010: New York State Police Superintendent Harry Corbitt resigns amid the media pressure of the scandal.
 
That same day, Paterson was charged by the New York State Commission on Public Integrity for violating ethics laws when obtaining five free Yankees tickets for Game 1 of the 2009 World Series and possibly lying about it under oath. 
 
March 4, 2010: Director of Communications Peter Kauffmann resigns, stating: "As a former officer in the United States Navy, integrity and commitment to public service are values I take seriously. Unfortunately, as recent developments have come to light, I cannot in good conscience continue in my current position."

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