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How Do We Know For Sure?

August 27, 2010

What happened here? How did they conclude that Paterson never, ever intended to pay? 

Did they use a lie detector? Did they hypnotize him? Use psychotropic drugs? 

Did they call in Sookie Stackhouse? 

Come on now, how does anyone know what another person really intended? 

Of course, we all know from observing Paterson over the last two years that he is inconsistent, at best. 

And we know that his Senate minority leader modus operandi ­which involved telling people whatever he thought they wanted to hear — was a real liability as an executive. 

We all believe that, at minimum, he is fudging things on this matter. 

But the truth is, we don’t know for sure. 

There is no proof here. There is at least the possibility that Paterson intended to do the right thing and forgot to follow thorough. 

Put yourself in his shoes for two seconds. He is not a detail guy. Far from it. 

This matter comes up in a meeting and he says: “We’re supposed to pay for those tickets? It’s not an official thing?” 

A few days go by, does Paterson raise the matter again in a staff meeting?

“OK now, agenda item number 47 on my list is the Yankee tickets matter. What are we going to do about it?” 

Did Paterson then say to everyone: “Just between us, I am not going to pay. I have read the statute and I know that it is wrong, but I simply do not care.” 

Come on. Is there any logic here?  Could this really be another evil government plot? A scheme to defraud and deceive? Is that really what happened? Or was Paterson simply being Paterson — ­ confused, harried, inconsistent, misinformed, unorganized and dependent on others for things we all take for granted?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    August 28, 2010 1:01 PM

    Incompetence is not a defense.

  2. societax permalink
    August 28, 2010 2:19 PM

    Kaye’s charge was to determine whether Paterson lied under oath and whether he falsified a document: “The Commission asked the OAG to investigate whether the Governor testified falsely before Commission staff, and whether the Governor or any other person prepared false documents.” Her charge was largely the equivalent of an investigation about whether Clinton lied under oath about whether he had sex with Lewinsky. Really, who cares? And was Paterson’s conduct any worse than the massive corruption that permeates Albany?

    The Kaye report states that the evidence points to the conclusion that Paterson testified falsely before the commission. Yes, that conclusion rests in part on the fact that Paterson’s testimony was “inaccurate” about whether he intended to pay. As you note, perhaps (as I understand you to state) Paterson was “confused, harried, inconsistent, misinformed, [or] unorganized” at the time the tickets were acquired.

    But the report states that no one asked the Yankees about payment until the day after. The report credits Kauffman’s testimony–that before the press inquiry everyone was taking the position that Paterson was not planning to pay because the tickets were free–as more credible than Paterson’s. Kaye found more credible the fact that Johnson called the Yankees’ front office after the press inquiry to find out about payment, and his assistant’s work diary notes essentially corroborate that sequence of events. Paterson could have paid for the tickets the same day by credit card, without any need for a check, which itself was not how the Yankees typically accepted payment. (Perhaps Paterson’s credit card account is like the state budget: not paid in full as he goes, but meeting the monthly minimum payment and incurring interest charges on the debt.)

    Yet, it’s hard not to conclude from the evidence presented in the report that Paterson was at least reckless about the truth or falsity of his testimony about whether he intended–or took steps–to pay before he attended the game. So what is Paterson’s big error? He should have pulled a Reagan, who in an interview during the Iran-Contra investigation repeatedly stated: “I don’t remember” and “I have no way of knowing that.” Those are answers we could believe from Paterson.

    It’s now up to Soares to decide whether he can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Paterson perjured himself before the commission. But like Clinton’s sex with Lewinsky, who really cares?

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