As state Democratic leaders yesterday urged Gov. David A. Paterson in the next few days to publicly rebut allegations that have clouded his future, a group of prominent African-American officials said he should remain in office.
After a two-hour meeting in Harlem, the group said they want to meet with the governor to discuss his ability to continue to govern.
"It was a very spirited discussion, said the Rev. Al Sharpton, who called the meeting. "Some dissented. The overwhelming majority said they are supportive of the governor."
Sharpton said former mayor David Dinkins made an impassioned plea "that we not interfere with due process and we will not."
Earlier yesterday, Democratic Party bosses also said they wanted to hear more from Paterson, agreeing privately that the governor's virtual silence was untenable in the face of daily damaging disclosures. They didn't say what they would do if their advice was ignored, however.
Paterson has been accused of interfering in a domestic violence case involving an aide and lying under oath about receiving World Series tickets.
"The governor needs time to make his case, not an unlimited amount of time . . . a matter of several days to get his case out there," Jay Jacobs, head of the state and Nassau Democratic committees, said after a phone conference with dozens of county leaders.
He continued, "We can't sustain an environment where we're going through hits without answers being made."
The New York Times reported last night that Paterson had more than one conversation with the alleged abuse victim and raised the case with her.
Citing an ongoing investigation by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, Paterson has said he cannot discuss specifics of the domestic violence case. He has denied wrongdoing and vowed to publicly tell his side of the story once Cuomo's probe is completed. The governor disputes the ticket allegations made by the state ethics watchdog and has demanded a hearing.
Jacobs said there was consensus among party leaders that Paterson needed to speak soon. Asked if anyone called for Paterson to step down, Jacobs said, "No specific action was called for or suggested by anyone."
Sharpton convened an "emergency meeting" of about 30 African-American, Hispanic and Asian leaders at Sylvia's Restaurant in Harlem.
State Sen. Eric Adams (D-Brooklyn) pointed to a public meeting Paterson convened with legislative leaders Wednesday to discuss the budget as evidence "he is governing."
Earlier, Sen. Dean Skelos, the minority leader, gave Paterson a week or so to prove he can continue to govern. Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) suggested he and other legislative leaders would have to "assess within the next week" whether Paterson can run the state. Skelos said all of the allegations against Paterson "rise to the level of resignation."
The legislature's Democratic chiefs stood by Paterson. Sen. John Sampson of Brooklyn said: "We have one governor. There is no need for resignation."