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Lawmakers support Paterson's vow to stay in office

New York Gov. David A. Paterson announces he

New York Gov. David A. Paterson announces he will not seek a full term. (Feb. 26, 2010) Credit: Getty Images

ALBANY - State legislative leaders rallied to Gov. David A. Paterson Monday as he defiantly vowed to remain in office and negotiate next year's budget.

"Governor Paterson should not resign at all," said State Sen. John Sampson of Brooklyn, the Democratic leader. "Why can't we wait until the investigation is done and make a determination . . . In this country I thought there was due process and a person is innocent until proven guilty," he said.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver agreed, cautioning against drawing conclusions "until the facts are out there . . . He's the governor. There's an investigation taking place."

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is looking into allegations that Paterson and members of his State Police security detail interfered in a domestic violence case involving a top gubernatorial aide. Disclosure of the allegations led Democrats last week to persuade Paterson to drop his election campaign after only six days.

Paterson sought Monday to distance himself from the probe. "This is a separate issue that really involved someone that worked for us and not me," he said during a breakfast event in Manhattan. He answered questions from a New York Observer editor.

The governor insisted he would serve out his term, which ends Dec. 31. Asked whether he would resign, he said the question is "off the table. I don't know why it's on the table."

Paterson also signaled that he wouldn't transfer his budget-making duties to Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch, who has a better relationship with lawmakers and helped New York City avert bankruptcy in the mid-1970s.

Asked whether he still had the necessary authority to lead, Paterson shot back, "I already have the authority . . . I'm the governor." He continued, "There are plenty of governors who in their last year in office, whether they were term-limited or whatever, have been able to accomplish a lot."

Silver has suggested Ravitch, a longtime friend, should be involved in deliberations to close a budget deficit exceeding $8 billion. However, Silver said Monday the extent of Ravitch's involvement was up to Paterson.

Paterson also complained about rumors of his resignation, saying they were "an hysteria that I've been a victim of over the last couple of months."

Asked whether Paterson should resign, Sen. Dean Skelos of Rockville Centre said, "As of right now, I think he should remain and we should see what the Cuomo report comes back with concerning [Paterson's] involvement in this incident."

Meanwhile, New York City police officers who responded to the Oct. 31 domestic violence complaint at a Bronx apartment were interviewed Monday by Cuomo's staff, according to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. He told reporters in Manhattan that officers visited the address three times.

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