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by Jay Gallagher

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

No sigh of relief from Paterson

If Gov. David Paterson is relieved that the long-awaited New York Times bombshell story focused on a top aide rather than on himself, he did a good job hiding it today.
Paterson, who made the round of talk-show circuit for the last couple of weeks decrying rumors about what the story might be about, issued a statement blasting The Times for the story about David Johnson, his former driver who is now considered one of his top advisers.
The Times disclosed that Johnson, 37, has been arrested twice for drug infractions and has been involved in three incidents where female companions say he assaulted them - one as recently as last October.
"The New York Times has chosen to splash his youthful offenses across the pages of its newspaper – even though the courts of our State have ordered them to be sealed,’’ Paterson said in a statement today. “Mistakes committed during one's youth are determined by law to be kept sealed for a reason – to give a young person a second chance at a productive life. I profoundly believe in this principle of redemption and giving young people a second chance.’’
He also pointed out that The Times presented only anonymous sources to buttress its case that Johnson had been involved in violent incidents with women.
“There is no independent evidence presented that would substantiate any claims of violence committed by David Johnson against a woman, a fact underscored by the absence of a single judicial finding that any such incident ever took place,’’ Paterson said.
The Times quoted anonymous officials as saying they feared that Johnson, who has limited policy-making experience, doesn’t have the background to properly advise the governor, who is faced with difficult tasks of persuading the Legislature to pass a balanced budget, as well as running for election in November.
But Paterson said he has full confidence in Johnson, who has worked for him for more than a decade.

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