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Woman seen dining with Paterson is just friend, gov's office says

Gov. David Paterson's office strongly denied a report Sunday that he was “nuzzling” and “neck-kissing” a 34-year-old woman who is not his wife at a New Jersey restaurant, saying the woman in question was seeking Paterson's advice on starting an after-school program.

“Any insinuation of inappropriate behavior is completely false,” said Paterson spokeswoman Marissa Shorenstein. “She's a friend of the governor and he was simply having lunch with her at a public restaurant.”

Shorenstein identified the woman as Jennifer Jones, who has raised money for Paterson's re-election campaign. She described Jones as a "longtime friend and supporter" of the governor and said she is married with three children and holds a master's degree in social work from Fordham University.

The New York Post Sunday quoted two women saying they were eating at the restaurant, the River Palm Terrace in Edgewater, Saturday afternoon when they saw Paterson and the woman acting “very intimate” with one another.

“I saw him kissing her neck,” Sharon Farrell, who said she was sitting two tables away, is quoted as saying in the Post.

The story said when a Post photographer showed up and joined Farrell and her friend, Paterson walked over to the table and said: “She works with me.”

Shorenstein said Jones does not work for the state or the campaign.

The general manager of the restaurant, a steakhouse with several locations in New Jersey, said he did not see any nuzzling or kissing.

“I walked by the table 15, 20 times,” said the manager, David Feeback. “They were talking fund-raisers, budgets. That's not how you woo a lady. I'm a player, I know that.”

Feeback said state troopers came into the restaurant shortly before 2 p.m. and notified the staff that the governor was coming. The two dined alone for an hour and a half and ordered half a dozen oysters, a tomato and mozzarella salad, a shell steak and an order of sliders, said Feeback.

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