Scandal Dogs N.Y. Gov. Paterson's Campaign
New York's embattled Democratic Gov. David Paterson is facing new allegations Thursday that could further cripple his election bid.
The New York Times is reporting that Paterson and his state police security detail intervened in a domestic violence case involving one of the governor's top aides.
Just last weekend, Paterson announced that he would fight to win a full term in office -- despite persistent polls showing that most New Yorkers want a change.
On Shaky Ground
Paterson took office in 2008, after Eliot Spitzer's sex scandal and resignation.
Paterson's own precarious political situation worsened this month when rumors circulated that The New York Times was preparing a major expose examining details of his private life.
The governor remained defiant, accusing his enemies of launching a smear campaign.
But The Times reported Wednesday night that one of his top aides, 37-year-old David Johnson, had been accused of violently assaulting a girlfriend.
According to the paper, the unnamed woman dropped her court case after allegedly being pressured by the governor's state police security detail -- and then receiving a call from Paterson himself. In an interview Thursday morning with a talk news station in New York City, Paterson said that he had asked Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to conduct an independent probe.
"He would conduct a full investigation of all the allegations that would, if true, make this a very disturbing and alarming situation," Paterson said.
Paterson refused to confirm or deny making the phone call, but he suspended his aide without pay and called for state police to conduct a separate probe.
The Final Straw?
Liz Benjamin, a columnist for the New York Daily News, says this scandal could be the final straw.
"There's already been one call for the governor not to seek election in the fall. That call was made by Congressman Steve Israel, who is a Long Island Democrat," Benjamin said. "He placed a personal call this morning to the governor and said, 'Hey look, it's really time for you to reconsider your push to try and keep this job.' "
As Paterson's popularity sagged over the past year, one of his staunchest supporters has been the National Organization for Women.
State director Marcia Pappas called these allegations particularly troubling.
"The governor has been a champion of women's rights and to end violence against women for many, many years. And it would be very disappointing to learn that his behavior has been the opposite of that," Pappas said. "So if we find out that these allegations are true, then certainly we would publicly call for his resignation."
The politics of this scandal are incredibly tangled. Cuomo has agreed to investigate, but he's also expected to be Paterson's main rival in the Democratic primary.
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