ALBANY - Gov. David A. Paterson, accused in a state report of lying under oath about soliciting free tickets to a 2009 World Series game, Tuesday produced e-mails his attorney said showed an invitation by the Yankees.
In his first extensive rebuttal, Paterson, through his lawyer Theodore Wells Jr., disclosed in a letter e-mails between gubernatorial aides from Oct. 7-8 labeled "Yankees Game Tomorrow - GDAP INVITE," according to a report on nydailynews.com. GDAP stands for Paterson's job title and initials.
State Commission on Public Integrity Chairman Michael Cherkasky said Wells' "letter does not contest the commission's determination that there is reasonable cause to believe that the governor violated the [state] gift ban and did not testify truthfully."
Commission spokesman Walter Ayres confirmed to Newsday last night that it had received Wells' letter. But Ayres refused to release a copy, saying it was not public.
The e-mails disclosed Tuesday were sent weeks before Paterson attended Game 1 of the series at Yankee Stadium on Oct. 28. Earlier this month, the commission alleged that Paterson falsely testified during its inquiry about use of five game tickets. The commission said it found Paterson never intended to pay for the tickets and had solicited them from the team.
Paterson has denied wrongdoing, saying he did not lie to the commission.
Wells could not be reached for comment Tuesday night. Paterson spokeswoman Marissa Shorenstein said she did not have a copy of Wells' letter, and referred questions to him.
The News Web site said the e-mails were included in a 10-page letter Wells sent to the commission blasting aspects of its March 3 report. The commission alleged that Paterson's staff requested the tickets from the Yankees after the team won the American League championship on Oct. 25.
But Wells produced e-mails he claimed "unequivocally demonstrate a good faith belief on the part of the governor's staff that an invitation [to the World Series game] had indeed been extended," the News Web site said.
Wells pointed to an Oct. 7 e-mail in which Paterson aide Kathleen Whittemore followed up on a phone call from Yankees executive Lonn Trost. She wrote that Trost "had called to inquire about the governor's need for post-season tickets," the newspaper said.
In the e-mail, titled "Yankee Game Tomorrow - GDAP INVITE," Whittemore told Paterson scheduler Matthew Nelson:
"When I asked [Trost] if he was following up on an invitation, he awkwardly laughed and said he wasn't sure if anything was ever sent, but he wanted to check if the governor would be interested it [sic] attending and if he was, he would make the arrangements."
In an Oct. 8 e-mail, Nelson said Paterson wasn't interested in the next day's game, but "appreciate[s] the opportunity and will definitely attend when they're in the next series, which of course they will be," the News Web site said. The commission's report did not mention these e-mails.
The commission fueled speculation about possible perjury charges against Paterson when it referred the tickets matter to the state attorney general and the Albany district attorney to determine if a crime was committed. Cuomo last week recused himself and appointed former state Chief Judge Judith Kaye as independent counsel.
With Anthony M. DeStefano