PATERSON: “I’M NOT THROWING ANYBODY UNDER THE BUS”
* This just in from the Hey-I-Know-The-Economy’s-Tough-But-This-Is-Ridiculous Dept.:
Judy Smith, the former BUSH WHITE HOUSE STAFFER and paid PR flack for Gov. David Paterson, is not only responsible for leaking those nasty rumors about Caroline Kennedy, the governor now says Smith gets to keep her job! For reasons that still mystify, it seems Gov. Patterson doesn’t plan to take any disciplinary action against the Guv’s now-infamous “leaker.”
If there’s any good news in this story, it is that Paterson may now be facing an investigation by the Public Integrity Committee over the leaking incident, on the grounds that Mrs. Kennedy’s privacy rights were violated. We’ll take it a step further and ask Albany to investigate whether or not some kind of pay-to-play scheme was a factor in the Governor’s choice for Hillary Clinton’s senate seat.
Dammit, where’s Patrick Fitzgerald and a wiretap when you really need one?
Story from the Associated Press below:
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Gov. David Paterson’s revelation that he is responsible for a campaign staffer who leaked unproven personal accusations about Caroline Kennedy after she withdrew from Senate consideration could lead to a state privacy investigation, experts said Wednesday.
The Democratic governor wouldn’t name the staffer. He said he’ll keep the consultant on his campaign payroll.
The claims surfaced just after Kennedy abruptly withdrew from Paterson’s secretive selection process to fill Hillary Rodham Clinton’s New York Senate seat. The anonymous leaker said Kennedy “wasn’t ready for prime time” and faced possible tax, nanny and marital problems.
Asked if the campaign staffer, identified a week ago by The Daily News as consultant Judith Smith, acted alone or as part of a broader effort to discredit Kennedy, Paterson said: “I’m not going to go into those kinds of conversations. Any involvement with what my staff does is my fault because to do something like that, people working for you should know better. … I’m just going to tell you the responsibility is ultimately mine.”
Smith is still on the campaign payroll.
“She’s still retained,” Paterson said to questions about the fate of Smith, a top communications strategist. “I’m not throwing anybody under the bus.”
He wouldn’t confirm or deny whether Smith directed the leak of unsubstantiated claims.
If the person who leaked the unsubstantiated claims on Jan. 22 got the information from confidential questionnaires Paterson asked every Senate hopeful to complete, then it could violate the state personal privacy protection law, said Robert Freeman, executive director of the state Committee on Open Government.
The state Public Integrity Commission has jurisdiction over a similar measure in the state Public Officers Law that bars state employees from disclosing confidential information. Commission spokesman Walter Ayres wouldn’t comment on whether an investigation into the Kennedy leak has been requested or started by the commission.
“I think the issue is worthy of review by the Commission on Public Integrity,” said Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group, a government watchdog.
Paterson has refused to release the candidates’ questionnaires, or even a blank one, which good-government experts have said is an apparent violation of the state Freedom of Information Law. Paterson has maintained the leaked information wasn’t taken from the confidential questionnaire.
After more than a week of denying he was involved in the leak, Paterson told reporters Tuesday that he is responsible for the actions of his employees.
Republican state Sen. Martin Golden said the case should be investigated.
“At the very least, (the staffer) should resign,” he said Wednesday.
Golden said he’s unsure there is any “criminality” to warrant an investigation like the one launched by Republicans in 2007 when aides to former Gov. Eliot Spitzer were accused of misusing state police to provide and recreate travel records to embarrass then-Senate Republican leader, Joseph Bruno.
Republicans lost control of the majority and the Senate Investigations Committee in the November elections. The Democrat-controlled Senate Investigations Committee has no plans to investigate, a spokesman said.