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Paterson Urged to Drop Out by Longtime Dem

Thursday, 25 Feb 2010 02:07 PM


ALBANY, N.Y. – Gov. David Paterson is under fresh pressure to drop his run for a full term this year after a report about a domestic abuse complaint against a top aide.

"I think it's become apparent that he should not seek election and should announce it soon," U.S. Rep. Steve Israel told The Associated Press on Thursday. "And sometimes friends have to speak unpleasant truths."

Israel, a Democrat from Long Island, said he reminded the governor that there is "life after Albany." Israel declined to say what Paterson's response was or share other details of the call. Paterson spokesman Peter Kauffmann declined to comment.

The call came after The New York Times published a report linking a top Paterson aide to a claim of domestic violence involving a former girlfriend.

The confrontation stems from a Halloween 2009 argument between the aide, David Johnson, and a woman, according to a police report. The woman told police Johnson was angry about her costume, choked her and tried to rip the clothing from her body.

Johnson wasn't present when police arrived. The call was treated as a second-degree harassment, a misdemeanor, rather than a higher charge of assault because police had no proof she was injured. A domestic violence report was issued, but no criminal charges were brought.

Paterson suspended Johnson without pay on Wednesday and asked Attorney General Andrew Cuomo — whom many Democrats would rather see in the race than Paterson — to investigate. The Times article said state police may have pressured the woman to not level criminal charges against Johnson.

"Serious questions have been raised about contact the state police may have had with a private citizen who filed a complaint against a member of my staff," Paterson said in a statement released to the AP Wednesday night. "Any allegation of improper influence must be investigated thoroughly and completely."

Paterson was lieutenant governor when his boss, Eliot Spitzer, resigned in a prostitution scandal.

Johnson, 37, has worked for Paterson for more than a decade, beginning when Paterson was a state senator representing Manhattan's Harlem neighborhood. Johnson began as an intern as part of Paterson's effort to provide a second chance to youths with arrest records stemming from the crack epidemic in Harlem at the time.

Johnson, who stands 6 feet 7, has been at Paterson's side during his tenure as governor and has risen from a lower-level staffer to a confidant. Johnson had a previous drug arrest when he was younger, for which he served probation.

There was no immediate comment from spokesmen for Cuomo, who is widely expected to run for governor this year.

© Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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