Black Democratic leaders who hold sway inGov. David Paterson's home and political base in New York City planto converge Thursday in a meeting that could produce influentialcalls for him to resign amid two misconduct scandals.
The Rev. Al Sharpton, a prominent civil rights activist andHarlem political fixture, is expected to say he's rethinking hissupport for New York's first black governor, according to a blackDemocratic adviser who spoke on the condition of anonymity becauseof the sensitivity of the issue.
The meeting is set for Thursday night at a restaurant in
Manhattan's Harlem neighborhood and follows a flurry of callsovernight in which many of the leaders reconsidered their supportfor Paterson. Those calls were also voiced in a similar summitSaturday in Harlem, although the group overall supported Paterson'splan to continue to serve. He had ended his campaign for a fullterm the day before.
The meeting "presented an opportunity to re-evaluate ordetermine what is necessary" in determining support for Paterson,said a second prominent black leader in New York City who attendedSaturday's meeting and is invited to Thursday's, called bySharpton.
The second Democrat, who also spoke on condition of anonymitybecause of the sensitivity of the issue, said there is increasedpressure on Paterson to either tell his side of the story, whichthe governor has said will exonerate him, or step aside. Patersonhas insisted he did nothing wrong and plans to fight the ethicscharges.
The New York branch of the National Organization for Women andsome elected Democrats have been calling for Paterson'sresignation. The group meeting tonight is expected to renew itsSaturday request to meet with Paterson to hear his side of thestory and determine if he can "credibly weather this storm," thesecond leader said. "If not, some hard decisions have to bemade."
At issue are legislative proposals critical to the black andLatino communities and Paterson's ability to advocate for them, theDemocrat said.
Among the attendees, Sharpton said in a statement, are formerMayor David Dinkins; former state Comptroller and 2002gubernatorial candidate Carl McCall; and Hazel Dukes, formerpresident of the National Association for the Advancement ofColored People.
Also planning to attend, according to the second Democraticleader, are U.S. Reps. Gregory Meeks of Queens and Yvette Clarke ofBrooklyn; state Senate President Malcolm Smith; ManhattanDemocratic Chairman Keith Wright, a veteran assemblyman; BronxDemocratic Chairman Carl Heastie, an assemblyman; AssemblymanMichael Benjamin of the Bronx; Assemblyman Karim Camara ofBrooklyn. Congressman Charles B. Rangel, who relinquished his HouseWays and Means Committee chairmanship Wednesday because of ethicsinquiries, isn't expected.
Paterson represented Harlem for 20 years in the state Senatebefore becoming lieutenant governor in 2006, then governor in 2008,when Eliot Spitzer stepped down during a prostitution scandal.
The news about the Manhattan meeting contrasted with a statementThursday by an organization of black police officers who stepped upto show support for Paterson. The group, 100 Blacks in LawEnforcement Who Care, urged an end to what it called a "rush tojudgment."
Still, the damage was mounting in the wake of the scandalplaguing Paterson over contact he and others in his administrationhad with a woman who had accused a top aide of roughing her up on
Halloween. At issue is whether Paterson or others urged the womanto drop her complaint.
The ethics charges brought by the state Public IntegrityCommission allege that Paterson sought and obtained free Yankeestickets for the 2009 World Series and then may have lied about hisintention to pay for them, according to a state report.
He faces penalties of nearly $100,000, and the case was referredto the Albany County prosecutor's office and the state attorneygeneral for possible criminal investigation into whether Patersonor anyone else lied to the commission or backdated a check.
The ethics charge isn't directly related to the scandal over theaide. But the panel said the aide, David Johnson, was one ofPaterson's four guests, along with Paterson's son and a son'sfriend, getting tickets for the Oct. 28 World Series game providedby the Yankees.
Four days later, also in the Bronx, Johnson was accused ofdomestic violence by his then-girlfriend. But the ticket scandalmay ultimately be more damaging to the governor, especially giventhe timing.
Paterson told investigators that he always intended to pay the$850 for tickets for his son and the son's friend. They were paidfor with a postdated check, and the governor paid for them onlywhen confronted by a reporter for The New York Post, the statereport said.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times