New York Governor David Paterson, who earlier this summer signed groundbreaking ticketing legislation, is potentially facing perjury charges for his involvement in allegedly accepting free New York Yankees World Series tickets last year.
The fact that Paterson received several premium tickets to the 2009 World Series is not in question. But, whether he allegedly mislead officials investigating the matter is.
Paterson ultimately paid for the tickets, and he has denied any wrongdoing in connection with them. Morgan Hook, spokesperson for the governor, referred questions about the matter to Paterson’s personal attorney, who issued a statement yesterday, August 26, reiterating that Paterson “did not lie” about the tickets, and he hopes that the matter is resolved without criminal charges.
In recent months, Paterson is the latest of several politicians to get in hot water over receiving event tickets, a list that includes elected officials in New Jersey, Massachusetts and San Francisco.
Independent counsel Judith Kaye released a report Thursday on the Paterson situation that alleged the governor misled investigators over the tickets, and she asked Albany County District Attorney David Soares to study the matter and decide whether Paterson should be charged with perjury.
Paterson allegedly told state ethics investigators that he intended to pay for the tickets, which carried a face value of $425 each, but Kaye called those statements “inaccurate” and “misleading,” in part because checks for the tickets were cut after the fact and appeared to be backdated. He is not accused of falsifying any documents.
Other items from Paterson’s testimony allegedly also did not add up, such as when and how he was invited to the World Series game. Paterson allegedly said he was invited to the game by Yankees President Randy Levine during a conversation that reportedly did not happen the way the governor described it.
At a press conference Thursday, Paterson said he hopes to meet with ethics commissioners soon to discuss the matter. “We also dispute that I solicited anything from the Yankees and acted improperly. We are looking forward to talking with them about that,” he told the New York Times.
The issue of politicians receiving event tickets or other gifts has been increasing scrutinized in recent years as taxpayers and others demand more transparency and accountability from elected officials.
In New Jersey last year, officials in the administration of former Gov. Jon Corzine were criticized, as was the state’s sports and exposition authority, for receiving tickets to Bruce Springsteen shows and other events. Gov. Chris Christie has vowed to make changes to the policy.