Governor David Paterson this evening suddenly remembered having spoken to the girlfriend of a top aide who was claiming she’d been attacked and struck in an incident last fall.
The governor’s memory kicked in just as a new story in the Times was appearing tonight reporting that Paterson and members of his state police detail had contacted the girlfriend after she had filed a domestic abuse complaint.
The governor went right to work. Within minutes after the Times story was posted on its website, Paterson released a statement announcing that he is suspending his aide, David Johnson, without pay. To get to the bottom of whatever happened, he also said he is asking his political rival, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, to investigate the incident.
“Serious questions have been raised about contact the State Police may have had with a private citizen who filed a complaint against a member of my staff,” Paterson said in the statement. “Any allegation of improper influence must be investigated thoroughly and completely.”
Before the new account refocused his memory, the governor’s earlier impression was that the Times had hyped its own report on a fight that Johnson had with his live-in girlfriend on Halloween night. On February 17, the day the first Times story appeared, Paterson said that the paper’s account “wasn’t supported by the facts,” claiming that there had been “no independent evidence presented that would substantiate any claims of violence committed by David Johnson against a woman.”
But the new Times piece quotes the woman’s lawyer as saying that the governor himself had personally spoken with the woman on the eve of a court hearing on the matter. The woman also said that she’d been contacted and visited by members of Paterson’s state police detail. She later failed to return to court and the complaint was dropped.
The governor didn’t explain why he was now suddenly suspending Johnson for a matter he’d apparently been aware of for some weeks.
But this is Patersonville, Jake. Forget about it.