Four legal eagles enlisted by Governor Paterson on the Richard Ravitch controversy — Kathleen Sullivan, Thomas Gleason, Victor Kovner and Richard Brifault — gave a press conference today. Sullivan said that “we believe the governor’s action in appointing Ravitch to the vacant office of Lieutenant Governor is absolutely lawful,” and that as of July 8th, “Richard Ravitch has been duly appointed as lieutenant governor.” The restraining order, therefore, is “moot,” she said.
The Constitutional issues that attorney general Andrew Cuomo raised are irrelevant to the case, as Public Officer Law 43, which empowers the Governor to make appointments, is “without limitation,” said Sullivan, and the Constitution provides only that the senate president “shall perform the duties” of the lieutenant governor when the office is vacant as a “caretaker role, an interim role.”
She also said that Artlcle 13 Section 3, one of the Constitutional articles cited by Cuomo, says the legislature shall “provide” for filling official vacancies, and Public Officer Law 43 “is the means” for filling such offices, including the office of lieutenant governor.
Sullivan denounced the late-night filing of the temporary restraining order by the Republicans, saying their taking of the case “out of Albany and down to Nassau County in the middle of the night” would make a “terrible precendent if this sort of judical action” were allowed to “interrupt the lawful actions of the Governor.”
Kovner said, in his own view, “the circumstance in which this was brought raise ethical questions on the part of counsel for the plaintiffs that warrant attention at a later date.”
Gleason said that “obviously we take very seriously a court order” and the Governor’s counsel would address it by the appropriate means.
Kovner said the lawyers were not charging any more than their usual fees; Sullivan said they were working “around the clock” and aren’t really thinking about the money.