New York State's Commission on Public Integrity slapped Governor Paterson with a $62,125 for soliciting, accepting and receiving five complimentary tickets to Game One of the 2009 World Series for himself, two aides, his teenage son and his son's friend. The ticket mini-scandal broke last November when the Post's Fred Dicker began asking questions about how the Governor obtained the coveted tickets. After a lengthy inquiry, during which the Governor was compelled to testify, the Commission has concluded that "the Governor's testimony that he always intended to pay for the tickets was refuted by his staff, the Yankees, an independent handwriting expert and common sense."

Paterson's lawyer had persuaded the Yankees to release the tickets by arguing that the Governor would be attending the game in official capacity. But the Commission found that the Governor did not participate in opening ceremonies, which involved the throwing out of the first pitch by a "Wounded Warrior" accompanied on the field by First Lady Michelle Obama and Second Lady Jill Biden. According to the report [pdf], Paterson was not announced to the crowd by name, and at no time prior to, during or after the game did the Governor meet with the First Lady, Mrs. Biden or members of the Yankees organization. (The Commission's website has most of the evidence available online. The internal e-mails, which show Paterson's staff debating how to best spin Dicker, make for a fun read.)

But even if Paterson had performed a ceremonial function at the game, it would not have entitled him to free tickets for his son and his son's friend. According to the Commission, the Yankees have “myriad and continuing business and financial interests that relate to New York State government,” including real estate, stadium development and tax matters, and it was thus a violation of the state's Public Officers Law for the Governor to solicit the tickets. "The moral and ethical tone of any organization is set at the top," says Michael Cherkasky, the Chairman of the Commission. "Unfortunately the Governor set a totally inappropriate tone by his dishonest and unethical conduct. Such conduct cannot be tolerated by any New York State employee, particularly our Governor."

As Paterson told the Times in a sad-sack interview published today, "You have a false income when you’re governor, because you live in the executive mansion." He then enumerated the various perks he's giving up when he leaves office: free meals, free transportation, free staff. "And, so, if you computed that out to a salary, it’s probably twice the governor’s salary," Paterson elaborated. "I am worried about money, because I am not a billionaire, in case you hadn’t heard." And now he wants to take classes at the Helen Keller Services for the Blind, which don't come cheap... unless he can enroll in "an official capacity"?