Yesterday, Governor Paterson's lawyer, Theodore Wells, fired off a letter to the commission that investigated his client's alleged solicitation of free World Series Yankees tickets. The letter [pdf] disclosed e-mails between Paterson's staff and the Yankees which seemed to contradict the Commission on Public Integrity's allegation that Paterson's aide David Johnson shook down the Yankees for free tickets, then belatedly forged his boss's name on a post-dated check after people started asking questions. But today the commission's chief hit back, insisting that these e-mails don't actually pertain to the World Series!
A source close to the Yankees probe tells the Post that the e-mails referred to playoff tickets being offered to the governor. (State law prohibits officials in the executive branch from soliciting or accepting gifts of more than nominal value from any lobbyist if it could be intended to sway the official.) PIC head Michael Cherkasky, who was appointed by Paterson, tells the tabloid, "Mr. Wells' letter does not contest the commission's determination that there is reasonable cause to believe that the governor violated the gift ban and did not testify truthfully." The e-mails are dated Oct. 7-8th; the World Series started on the 28th.
The Attorney General's office is investigating the matter, along with Paterson's alleged interference in a domestic violence legal action against Johnson. Regarding the PIC Yankees probe, one former ethics commissioner told the AP that he felt "the commission's report was flawed" and rushed because it didn't include an interview with Johnson, who handled the ticket hook-up. But Cherkasky, the commission head, said in a statement issued Tuesday that Johnson was in fact subpoenaed, but failed to show up.
Funny thing about that—Johnson’s lawyer, Oscar Michelen, claims that Johnson was never told that the envelope from the commission contained a subpoena, so he just never opened it! He was suspended from his job a few hours after receiving it, when the Times broke the big domestic violence story open. But since the envelope was never opened, "Mr. Johnson never failed to appear as he was unaware of any required appearance," his lawyer tells the Times. The commission was recently in contact with D.J., and he's expected to testify "shortly.''