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EDITORIAL: Cuomo was right to hand off investigations

Handing off the dual investigations of Gov. David A. Paterson yesterday was the right thing for Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to do. In recent weeks, New York has been roiled by too much drama and too many questions of integrity.

Judge Judith Kaye's credentials as the state's former chief judge are unquestionable. She will now lead the investigations into whether Paterson lied under oath about free Yankees tickets, and whether he deterred a woman from filing a restraining order against his close aide.

Keeping the attorney general's public integrity bureau on the case, even though they will now report directly to Kaye on these issues, ensures continuity and a speedier resolution. But Kaye will be the one to decide whether there will be any criminal prosecutions. The former chief judge should also thoroughly review the actions of the governor's State Police detail and consider issuing a grand jury report about the value of this controversial unit.

Of course, Cuomo's decision was also good for Cuomo, removing a mess that was a no-win for him. Cuomo is likely to run for governor this year, and whether he pursued charges against Paterson or cleared him, the eventual outcome would have been subject to political second-guessing. And that would feed the corrosive cynicism about Albany.

This sorry episode must be resolved quickly and cleanly. hN


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