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State lawmakers stand by Paterson to stay in office

ALBANY - The State Legislature's top leaders stood by Gov. David A. Paterson Tuesday amid new calls for him to step down after more revelations about his alleged interference in a domestic violence case involving a key aide.

Paterson was undeterred, saying last night he had no plans to resign because "I don't think that I've been accused of anything."

He said he could not speak about the case because of an investigation by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. "I don't think they would want me talking about the facts of this case in public, because that would be like testifying," he said.

Earlier, he spent hours in the Executive Mansion huddled with the legislative chiefs and other key Democrats.

After a 11/2-hour lunch with the governor, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and State Sen. John Sampson emerged, each saying, "I do not feel he should resign."

Jay Jacobs, head of the state and Nassau Democratic committees, agreed, adding that he told Paterson to "get his side of the story" out quickly to the public.

Still, Paterson continued to lose support from influential groups. The state chapter of the National Organization for Women said, "in spite of the governor's heretofore excellent record on women's issues, it is now time for the governor to step down."

NOW and others were responding to Tuesday's New York Times report that Paterson allegedly directed two state employees to contact the woman claiming to have been assaulted by Paterson aide David Johnson.

The governor has said he only learned of the incident's severity last month when contacted by the Times. He has acknowledged speaking with the woman, but said he acted properly. After their conversation, she didn't show up for a Bronx Family Court proceeding and her request for an order of protection was dismissed.

Jacobs, who met privately with Paterson for an hour Tuesday, said, "The governor needs to demonstrate that he can govern and he needs to answer these allegations - and he has answers for them.

"I did not get the sense that the governor is considering resignation, that resignation is impending," Jacobs added.

Paterson was expected to meet privately this morning with his cabinet and commissioners of state agencies.

Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch said he wasn't preparing for succession: "I'm not aware of any compelling reason for him to resign at this point."

However, Sen. Craig Johnson (D-Port Washington) said Paterson should step down because he has lost the public confidence. "For the best interests of the state, it would be better to have a new party negotiating the budget," Johnson said.

Assemb. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore) went further, calling on the Assembly's Democratic majority to convene an impeachment trial of Paterson if he refuses to step down.

But his call fell on deaf ears in the 150-member lower chamber where Democrats have an iron grip. Silver declined to comment directly on Boyle's call.

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