The state Public Integrity Commission announced today that it is fining outgoing Gov. David Paterson $62,125 for soliciting and accepting five free tickets to the first game of the 2009 World Series.
The governor testified that he had always intended to pay for the tickets, but aides to Paterson said otherwise, the commission said. The five tickets were for himself, his teenage son, his son’s friend and two aides.
But the commission said the governor went to the game for recreation and paid for two of the tickets only after a reporter called with questions about them
“The moral and ethical tone of any organization is set at the top. Unfortunately the governor set a totally inappropriate tone by his dishonest and unethical conduct,” Commission Chairman Michael Cherkasky said in a statement. “Such conduct cannot be tolerated by any New York State employee, particularly our Governor.”
Paterson, who has less than two weeks left in office, is being fined for the value of the tickets—$2,125 – plus $60,000 for violating different parts of the state’s Public Officers Law. Tickets for the field-level seats were $425 each.
The commission concluded that the governor violated two other sections of the statute, but the law doesn’t authorize levying civil penalties for those violations.
Former Chief Judge Judith Kaye also investigated the case and indicated the governor may have committed perjury in his testimony to the commission. Kaye, serving as a special counsel to Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, referred the case to the Albany County District Attorney’s Office for potential criminal charges. The district attorney’s office has not ruled on the case.
There was no immediate comment from Paterson’s office or his personal attorney, Theodore Wells.
Blair Horner, legislative director for the New York Public Interest Research Group, said Paterson’s “failures on ethics policies and his behavior will forever tarnish his record.”
“Today’s action by the Commission on Public Integrity adds to Governor Paterson’s legacy of ethical miscues and scandals. He now has a $62,125 fine to go with the charge that he lied under oath to CPI investigators,” Horner said. “Since the CPI rejected the claim that the governor’s appearance at the World Series was in his official capacity, we urge the State Board of Elections to reject any effort by the governor to use his campaign funds to pay this fine.”
This is the report issued by the commission: