ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) The Rev. Al Sharpton, the civil rights leader who holds sway in the New York City community that’s Gov. David Paterson’s home and political base, is convening a group of black Democratic leaders there who could urge him to resign amid two misconduct scandals, a party adviser told The Associated Press on Thursday.
The adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said Sharpton is expected to say he’s rethinking his support for New York’s first black governor.
The meeting is set for Thursday night at a restaurant in Manhattan’s Harlem neighborhood and follows a flurry of calls overnight in which many of the leaders reconsidered their support for Paterson. Those calls were also voiced in a similar summit Saturday in Harlem, although the group overall supported Paterson’s plan to continue to serve. He had ended his campaign for a full term the day before.
“I still believe that he’s entitled to the presumption of innocence, but as each day brings more severe reports, his ability to govern effectively is called into question,” said a second prominent black leader in New York City who attended Saturday’s meeting and is invited to Thursday’s meeting.
“I got the impression that the seriousness of the charges against him has grown since the group met Saturday, and this presented an opportunity to re-evaluate or determine what is necessary to stake out another position if necessary,” the leader said.
The second Democrat, who also spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said there is increased pressure on Paterson to either tell his side of the story, which the governor has said will exonerate him, or step aside.
Sharpton spokeswoman Rachel Noerdlinger confirmed the meeting but declined to comment further on Paterson. The leaders will also discuss issues including health care, education and jobs, she said.