Five months have passed since former chief judge Judith S. Kaye took over the investigation into David Paterson's role in his aide's alleged assault against a former girlfriend. Today Kaye released her report [pdf], concluding that Paterson did not break any laws when he repeatedly contacted the woman, Sherr-una Booker, after his former top adviser, David Johnson, allegedly choked her, tore off her Halloween costume, and threw her against a mirrored dresser last October. There has been widespread speculation that Booker dropped her court case against Booker as a result of pressure from Paterson and the State Police. (She dropped the case the day after a phone call from Paterson.)
After the New York Times published a series of incendiary articles detailing the Paterson administration's response to the alleged altercation, Paterson reached out to Booker again, and instructed his press secretary to draft a statement for Booker declaring that "though our break-up was not friendly, there was nothing acrimonious about our relationship or its ending." Booker refused to issue the statement. Paterson also left a voicemail message for Booker after the story broke. Here's the awkward transcript:
Sherri, this is David. You should see the way they wrote this story. They’re trying to make it look like I pressured you into dropping this court case. Please help me. Your lawyer — his statement makes it sound the same way. Um, I mean — I was trying to find out about the rumors involving myself. You placed the call to me around ten minutes to four on Sunday, Feb. 7 — it was the day of the Super Bowl. And, um, in the conversation, we just talked about the things that — that — you didn’t say anything about me, and I didn’t say about you. Then we went on to talk about other stuff, but — I hope, uh — you remember that I was not trying to make you do anything, and — I hope your lawyer will do something to help me here, because this, uh, doesn’t look good for me, and I wasn’t in this.
Apparently, Booker had plenty of room on her voicemail, because Paterson went on and on like Jon Favreau in Swingers:
And this is exactly what they’re after. And I — I was just not in this and didn’t — um, you know — want to play a role in it. And, to be honest with you, I believe you. So — um, anyway, uh — if you can help to clear this up, because it — that portrayal, that conversation — we didn’t talk for one minute, we talked for 10 or 15 minutes. And, um — I did tell you that I was there for you, and you could call me. But I wasn’t doing it to try to trade it for you dropping the ca — I didn’t even know the court date was Monday, to be honest with you. I’ll talk to you later.
Paterson later testified that he reached out to Booker because he had heard that she needed help handling press inquiries. Kaye's report states that "there were numerous telephone contacts between the Governor and Booker, some that he initiated even after he became aware of the serious nature of her accusations, and even just after he referred this matter to the OAG. Regardless of any good faith reasons on the part of the Governor for contacts that he initiated, these were errors of judgment." But Kaye found no criminality on behalf of the Governor. So we guess this means he's cleared to run for Governor again! Watch your back, Cuomo.
Kaye's report does say that there is "evidence reviewed warrants consideration of possible charges" against Johnson relating to the alleged altercation with Booker, who last week decided to continue with her legal action against Johnson.