Paterson Blasts Public-Safety Czar Who Jumped Ship

"I think everyone knows [she] is running for attorney general," gov says

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    NEWSLETTERS

    An exclusive look inside the the woman at the center of Governor Paterson's scandal (Published Friday, Mar 5, 2010)

    Gov. David Paterson took aim Friday at his ex-public-safety chief who abruptly quit when news broke of the governor's involvement in a domestic-violence case against one of his former top aides, claiming she resigned to serve her own political ambitions.

    "I think everybody knows [she] is running for attorney general, and you will have relationships that get exacerbated at times like that," Paterson said of Denise O'Donnell, the former State Commissioner of Criminal Justice Services and Assistant Secretary to the Governor for Criminal Justice, on WWRL-AM yesterday.

    Sources close to O'Donnell, who was among the first to resign in the wake of what would become a series of scandals clouding over Albany, said at the time that she quit in "disgust" because Paterson contacted the victim of the alleged domestic-violence assault.

    Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's office is investigating whether Paterson or any of his staffers broke laws by contacting Sherr-una Booker, who accused the governor's former aide, David Johnson, of violently attacking her on Halloween night.

    Cuomo's office is also looking into whether Paterson accepted free tickets to a Yankees World Series game and then lied under oath about his intentions to pay the team back.

    On Thursday, Cuomo, who is expected to run for governor, removed himself from the Paterson probe, citing the ferocity of New York politics and the need to avoid any perception of partiality.

    He appointed former judge Judith Kaye as special counsel to oversee the investigation.

    Paterson wouldn't comment Friday on Cuomo's decision to recuse himself from the probe, saying only that he planned to cooperate.

    O'Donnell's decision to quit was the first in a series of resignations from high-profile Paterson administration officials, including former Communications Director Peter Kauffman and State Police Superintendent Harry Corbitt.