GET A LOAD OF THIS
Just when you thought this whole Caroline Kennedy/Gov. Paterson senate seat story couldn’t possibly get any weirder, it does. Breathtakingly so.
For several days, we’ve been trying to track down just WHO was the mysterious “anonymous source close to Gov. Paterson.” Just who exactly leaked these slanderous, character-damaging rumors about Caroline Kennedy to the media (who in turn, didn’t bother checking their accuracy before rushing such potentially libelous stories into print).
After several strong denials from the Governor’s office claiming that Paterson had nothing to do with the leaks, Paterson reversed himself yesterday, admitting that – oops! – yes, it was someone on his payroll.
Hmm, yes, the Governor’s memory seems to be improving dramatically all of a sudden…
At first, Patterson didn’t provide further details as to who that person was, simply blaming an unnamed “PR flack”. Then, when pressed again to disclose the source of the “erroneous information” (down here in Texas, where I come from, we call `em LIES) the Guv finally `fessed up and admitted the PR flack was a former BUSH WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY!
Yes, you read that right.
Certainly explains quite a bit, does it not?
By the way, this story was penned by the New York Daily News’ Elizabeth Benjamin (seen here getting smacked down by Chris Matthews on Hardball for publishing this crap in the first place). Looks like Lizzie is now desperately trying to cover her butt and do the right thing…like checking sources before printing defaming rumor as fact. Not to mention doing her best to avoid a possible libel suit and save what remains of her journalistic reputation.
So here’s the full story – or at least what we know at this point. Read it and weep!
GOV’S HIRED GUN SHOT CAROLINE IN THE BACK
From the NY Daily News:
Gov. Paterson’s decision to go nuclear on Caroline Kennedy was a hatchet job run by a pricey out-of-state consultant who specializes in political scandals, disgruntled administration sources said.
Judy Smith, a Washington-based PR guru and former Bush White House deputy press secretary, orchestrated the ill-conceived character attack on Kennedy, sources said Sunday.
There was an internal agreement among Paterson staffers to refrain from attacking Kennedy.
Then came the leaks from inside the governor’s office that Kennedy’s supposed tax, nanny and marital problems had tanked her bid for Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat – taking many staffers by surprise.
“There were radically different statements all coming out of the governor’s camp at the exact same time,” a Paterson adviser said.
The administration released a formal statement insisting no information gathered from candidates for Clinton’s seat led to Kennedy’s withdrawal.
Yet it was Paterson who signed off on Smith’s plan to release dirt on Kennedy, the sources said.
Paterson loyalists are bemoaning his willingness to listen to a hired gun with little knowledge of New York politics, undercutting his own staff and projecting the image of an administration in chaos.
Paterson first brought Smith onboard last fall after his top aide, Charles O’Byrne, resigned in the wake of a tax scandal.
“It’s crazy. This never would have happened when Charles was there,” the adviser said. “In his absence, there’s a power vacuum, and a bunch of people are all doing their own thing.
“This is really, really serious,” the adviser continued. “Permanent damage has been done.”
The adviser suggested a “racial component” was at work when Paterson decided to bring on Smith, the first African-American woman to hold the deputy press secretary position at the White House. She came at the recommendation of Lisa Davis, a celebrity/media attorney who is the governor’s childhood friend.
“People like Lisa and Judy stirred the pot a little bit, and has always felt the Spitzer people didn’t respect him, so when Charles blew up, the governor’s old-time core people rallied around him and felt he needed a team that better reflected who he was,” the source said.
Smith’s client list has included Monica Lewinsky, the family of murdered Washington intern Chandra Levy, Louisiana Rep. William Jefferson, who is battling corruption charges, and scandal-scarred former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry.
Paterson has used campaign cash to pay Smith’s firm, Impact Strategies, $64,367 since October, according to his Jan. 15 filing with the state Board of Elections.
The Kennedy fiasco has brought out the worst in the Paterson administration, revealing an executive chamber that is beset by infighting, lacking in leadership and in desperate need of a staffing shakeup.
“I don’t know who’s in charge there any longer,” one Democratic state senator said.
“David’s like a time bomb.”
You can say that again, Mr.-or-Mrs. Anonymous-Democratic-state-senator-source. Sheesh, what’s up with all these snarky anonymous sources, anyway? Why don’t you come out of the BUSHES and let us see the whites of your eyes?
What are you afraid of? The truth or something?