Governor Charged With Soliciting Unlawful Gifts, May Have Given False Testimony

Governor Charged With Soliciting Unlawful Gifts, May Have Given False Testimony

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 3, 2010

CONTACT: Walter C. Ayres
                     518-474-4418

ALBANY — The New York State Commission on Public Integrity today charged Governor David A. Paterson with violating the gift ban of the State’s ethics laws when he secured free tickets to the first game of the 2009 World Series from the New York Yankees.

In addition to issuing the Notice, the Commission has asked the State Attorney General and the Albany County District Attorney to investigate whether the Governor or anyone else may have committed a crime or crimes by swearing falsely during the Commission’s interview of him and by causing a check to be back-dated.

The Commission determined that there is reasonable cause to believe that Governor Paterson solicited, received and accepted an unlawful gift; and falsely testified under oath that he had always intended to pay for the tickets for his son and his son’s friend when, in fact, the Governor’s intention was to receive and accept the tickets without paying for them until a press inquiry caused him to submit a backdated check as payment for the tickets.

The Governor is charged with violating two subsections of the gift ban provisions of the Public Officers Law, each of which carries a maximum penalty of $40,000. In addition, he allegedly violated three sections of the State Code of Ethics, including one that prohibits the Governor from using his official position to secure unwarranted privileges, which carries a civil penalty of $10,000.

According to the Notice of Reasonable Cause issued today by the Commission, the Governor allegedly violated Public Officers Law Sections 73(5) (a) and (b) and the State Code of Ethics in October, 2009, when he sought and obtained free tickets for himself, his fifteen-year-old son and his son’s friend. Section 73(5)(a) prohibits State officials from soliciting, accepting and receiving a gift “under circumstances in which it could reasonably be inferred that the gift was intended to influence him, or could reasonably be expected to influence him, in the performance of his official duties or was intended as a reward for any official action on his part.” Subdivision (b) prohibits soliciting, receiving or accepting gifts from lobbyists and clients. At the time, the Yankees were a client listed on the registration of a lobbyist who reported lobbying the Executive Chamber.

The Commission determined that there is reasonable cause to believe that the Governor did not intend -- before the game -- to reimburse the Yankees for the cost of the tickets for his son and his son’s friend.

The Commission will pursue additional charges, including charges against any person who was not named in this Notice, if warranted.

A copy of the Notice is attached. Click here for additional documentation.