Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Veteran Albany reporter calls Governor David Paterson a "liar" in Kennedy fiasco

Governor Paterson: Did he lie about Caroline Kennedy's withdrawal?

As his appointee to the United States Senate, Kirsten Gillibrand, was sworn in by Vice President Biden, New York Governor David Paterson was still on the hot seat for what some think was his shabby treatment of Dame Caroline Kennedy even after she withdrew from consideration.

Mayor Bloomberg, a Kennedy ally, dumped on the accidental Governor, who got the job when Client #9 resigned in disgrace. Kennedy family members and Camelot torch bearers were reported to be "furious" about Paterson's asking Dame Caroline to lie for him and then tossing stink bombs at her through unidentified aides telling stories to reporters.

Now, the New York Post's veteran Albany reporter, Fred Dicker, calls Paterson is a "liar" for claiming he doesn't know who fed "slime" to reporters on the Kennedy heiress. Dicker, who is obviously in a position to know since he passed along some of the "slime," reported today:

Gov. Paterson yesterday insisted he had no idea who did the slime job on Caroline Kennedy - although the source of the information is about as close to him during the day as his wife is at night.

He's a liar.

The person responsible for the smear was an individual whose identity is well known to the press, whose full-time job is to do the governor's bidding, and who is intelligent enough not to call reporters to damage Kennedy's reputation without approval from the top - and that means Paterson.

The "person responsible" had told some embarrassing tales about Kennedy:

Kennedy was "mired in some potentially embarrassing personal issues," the source told reporters Friday. "She has a tax problem that came up in the vetting and a potential nanny issue. And reporters are starting to look at her marriage more cosely.

"The governor had no intention of picking her because of the botched roll out eecuted in recent weeks," the source continued.

But Paterson said he "doesn't know who said this?"

"I would love to know who is responsible, but at this point, I've been unable to determine that," Paterson insisted yesterday, while maintaining a straight face.

"Obviously, if I ever found that that was the case, I would," he said, when asked if he'd discipline an aide who was responsible.

Dicker goes on:

The truth is that not only does Paterson know who the source of the leak was, but that Paterson is the only person in a position to have given the information to the leaker.

That's because all the disclosure documents that were handed over by Kennedy were given to Paterson's legal counsel's office, which is under a professional obligation of secrecy. The counsel then passed whatever might have been damaging in the records on to Paterson.

The information on Kennedy leaked hours later to news organizations with the understanding the source was someone "close to the governor."

Dicker's not giving Paterson "the benefit of the doubt" either:

That's because Paterson's latest denials are merely the latest installment in a long series of lies told by the governor that many in government have started to call pathological.

Who can forget Paterson's press conference denying that he had said ugly things about Mayor Bloomberg, when he was as close to the source on the story as one could be.

Remember last week, Paterson claimed on one network that he was close to a Senate selection, only to deny it on another two hours later?

Dicker turns to a presumably different unnamed source to go in for the kill:

The governor's word is as good as the last person who speaks to him, and he talks to a lot of people who have different positions," said one of Albany's best-known lobbyists.

"That means his word is good for nothing . . . and how can you run a state with a reputation like that?" the lobbyist continued.

Dicker and his paper have been known to stick it to public officials and candidates they don't especially like, particularly Democrats. But Dicker isn't the only reporter hammering Paterson about his Senate appointment process and the clash with Kennedy.

Paterson is going to have to offer a major public mea culpa to Dame Caroline before this goes away. What makes that so crazy is that, IMO, he was right not to appoint Kennedy, who was manifestly not ready for the job. Be that as it may, governors have to treat people well -- even annoyingly self-important people.

What do you think? Post a comment.

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