While everyone has been busy trying to figure out what the Times' scandalous Paterson bombshell would be (Will it involve sex? PLEASE SAY IT WILL INVOLVE SEX), a real ethical issue began to really be investigated by real authorities. According to WPIX, federal prosecutors are now looking into Paterson's awarding of the Aqueduct video-slot-machine contract to a firm connected to an important black political leader, Reverend Floyd Flake, whose support Governor Paterson covets.
It was after Flake had publicly flirted with supporting Andrew Cuomo's candidacy for governor that the contract was awarded to Aqueduct Entertainment Group, in which Floyd has a 0.6 percent stake. A few days later, Paterson and Floyd had a private meeting, during which, according to the Times, "the two men discussed whom he might back in the governor’s race this year," though Floyd insisted "there had been no quid pro quo." Making things more suspicious is that AEG "received poor ratings in a ranking of the bidders compiled by the state’s Lottery Division," the Times reported.
Okay, so this all appears kind of shady (although in Albany ... eh). But Paterson defended the integrity of the process on Don Imus's radio show this morning. He pointed out that both Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and the Senate's Democratic conference leader, John Sampson, agreed to award the contract to AEG as well. He noted that AEG had "had the second highest bid" and was "strongly competitive." And as for Floyd, he had "already publicly stated that he was not picking a candidate in the Democratic primary," and the two met a few days after the contract was rewarded because Floyd had "other issues" that had to wait until the bidding process was over. Can't old friends shoot the shit anymore these days? Is that a crime?
So, there you have it. In some ways, these allegations couldn't come at a worse time for Paterson, what with all the resignation talk already swirling about. Then again, they also couldn't come at a better time. When you're already drowning in bad PR, what's another few drops?
Paterson defends AEG deal [Capitol Confidential/Times Union]
More Trouble For Paterson As Prosecutors Launch Investigation [WPIX]