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Paterson backs Cuomo to lead probe

Gov. David Paterson Monday continued to assert his political relevance in the face of scandal, hosting a town hall meeting in Brooklyn before heading up to Albany to push once more for his proposed soda tax.

The embattled governor fielded questions about the state’s $9 billion budget gap from a mostly friendly audience and only touched obliquely on his recent troubles.

“Recently, I’ve been the target of rumors and innuendo, but it hasn’t stopped me,” he told the crowd at Borough Hall.

Afterward, he told reporters he has not talked to investigators from Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s office and said he met with his own lawyer on Saturday.

“I'd like to tell the story as it actually happened,” he said, before explaining that his attorney advised him not to discuss the facts of the cases.

Paterson is being investigated over contact he and members of his State Police detail had with a woman seeking a protective order against one of his top aides. He is also the target of a probe into his acceptance of free Yankees World Series tickets last year.

He rebuffed suggestions from both allies and opponents that a special prosecutor be appointed instead of Cuomo, who is widely expected to run for governor in November.

Paterson has expressed confidence in Cuomo’s ability to lead the investigation and said Monday that giving the case to someone else would not de-politicize it, noting that there are “plenty of independent prosecutors looking for a name for themselves” who might try to take advantage of the situation.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has avoided criticizing the governor during the scandal, also said he thought Cuomo is the right person, noting Paterson himself made the original decision.

“The governor has explicitly said he’s not running for re-election so there isn’t any conflict,” Bloomberg said.

On Sunday, City Councilman Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn) called on Cuomo to step aside and Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio, a former Long Island congressman, has made the same request.

The AP contributed to this story

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