Paterson's Communications Director Resigns

The dominoes just keep falling.

Following two other top resignations in the wake David Paterson's burgeoning scandals, Peter Kauffmann, director of communications for the embattled governor has stepped down, effective immediately.

"As a former officer in the United States Navy, integrity and commitment to public service are values I take seriously," Peter Kauffmann stated in a brief statement. "Unfortunately, as recent developments have come to light, I cannot in good conscience continue in my current position."

Kauffmann says he cannot continue in the administration plagued by the scandals that threaten the jobs of Paterson and those he directed.

His testimony and e-mails were critical in a state charge that Paterson illegally obtained Yankee tickets.

Governor Paterson was already on the hot seat for allegedly interfering with a domestic-abuse case involving top aide David Johnson when on Wednesday an ethics commission accused him of lying under oath about soliciting free World Series tickets from the Yankees.

On Tuesday the superintendent of the New York State Police Harry Corbitt announced that he was retiring.

Last Thursday, Denise O'Donnell, the former State Commissioner of Criminal Justice Services and Assistant Secretary to the Governor for Criminal Justice, resigned over the scandal, saying conduct by the state police was "distressing" for an administration that has devoted itself to reducing domestic violence.

Paterson says he is innocent and won't quit. His office didn't immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday.

Trying to avoid NBCNewYork's cameras, Governor Paterson rushed out of a rear exit of the Yale Club in midtown after having lunch with former Mayor Dinkins

When asked if he would be Governor tomorrow, Paterson replied "Yes."  When asked if he would be Governor next week, he did not answer. 

When asked if he violated his oath of office, Paterson ignored the question and escorted by his State Police security detail, he ducked into his waiting SUV.

Also NBCNewYork confirmed Thursday night that Paterson's press secretary, Marissa Shorenstein, sent an email to an intermediary, state worker Deneane Brown, asking  Sherr-una Booker, the woman at the center of the domestic abuse scandal, to exonerate her former beau.

The missive contained a draft statement reading: "David Johnson and I dated from x date until October, 2009. Though our break-up was not friendly, there was nothing acrimonious about our relationship or its ending. Any allegations to the contrary are false."

Booker refused to sign off on it.

New York State Democratic party chair Jay Jacobs said time is running out for the governor in terms of him coming up with a public response to the surrounding turmoil.

"The governor's got to get his story out the longer we wait the more the public is going to believe the narrative that's out there, you know, that the governor did something wrong," Jacobs told NBCNewYork.

"I know David Paterson, he is a good decent, honorable individual, he believes he's hurt no one and done nothing wrong," said Jacobs. "Yet I have every confidence that when he reaches the conclusion that he can't get his message out the way he wants, he will ultimately do the right thing, if that need be."

Meanwhile, black Democratic party leaders in Paterson's backyard, Harlem, are meeting Thursday night to discuss the governor's future. About forty politicians and community leaders expected to be present at the get together at Sylvia's restaurant. We're told there is no predetermined goal of ousting Paterson but that the participants will take a vote.

Currently it's said to be split 50/50 largely between "old school" Harlem folks who view Paterson as a beloved nephew and younger black pols who fear a continued scandal will take them down in November, sources told NBCNewYork. Tonight's meeting is expected to be a tough and emotional one.

Late last night several leaders who have showed up to Sylvia's said Gov. Paterson should be allowed to remain in office. Among those voicing support: Assemblyman Keith Wright, State Sen. Eric Adams and Hazel Dukes.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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