The Albany Times Union by Jimmy Vielkingy/Mike Groll/Associated Press - March 11, 2010
Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said he is appointing former Chief Judge Judith Kaye as an “independent counsel” responsible for overseeing investigations into David Paterson’s administration, recusing himself from two ongoing probes. “We did a preliminary review. What we have found in the preliminary review is that there are credible issues to be resolved. Once you make that determination then the question then becomes, well how do you conduct the investigation?” Cuomo said in a conference call Thursday afternoon. He said that the investigation was a “complex, weighty matter indeed. It is further complicated in this case due to the political atmosphere.” Cuomo began his first investigation of the Executive Chamber and State Police at Paterson’s request, after the New York Times reported the governor and a Trooper had contact with a woman pursuing domestic violence charges against David Johnson, the governor’s special assistant. A second complaint was forwarded to Cuomo’s office by the Commission on Public Integrity, which last week found Paterson made untrue statements under oath about his intention to repay the New York Yankees for World Series Tickets he solicited.
Cuomo said that the preliminary review included “hundreds of pages, thousands of e-mails and interviewed dozens of witnesses. An immediate resolution of these matters does not appear to be at hand,” Cuomo said. “We are fully cognizant of the need to do the investigation quickly, as well as the need to do the investigation thoroughly.” He declined to comment on how long the investigation might stretch. He also said the decision to recuse himself was a “legal determination,” and denied that political considerations played into it. A poll found A poll Cuomo’s standing among voters has slipped since he agreed to be the investigation’s steward. He is widely expected to run for governor, though he has consistently (and continued Thursday) to refuse to articulate his exact plans. While not announcing his intention to run for governor, Cuomo’s move is obviously aimed at avoiding charges that he’s coming down to hard on Paterson, perhaps in hopes of getting him to resign or somehow clearing the way for his ascension. “I understand the political environment and I understand the ferocity of politics in New York,” Cuomo said.