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Rumors Abound About Paterson-Scandal Exposé [Updated]

For about two weeks now, Albany has been buzzing that the New York Times was preparing a blockbuster scandal exposé about Governor Paterson, one that could seriously affect his chances for reelection. At first the rumors had it that the piece would be run last Sunday. When that day came and went, there was a lull until yesterday, when they again reached a fever pitch. The gossip fires had also been stoked by a "Page Six" report over the weekend in which the Post recounted an unpleasant alleged encounter in the governor's mansion. "At one point [a state trooper] opened the door to an electrical closet/utility room that isn't normally used," a source told columnist Fred Dicker. "The trooper opened the door and the first thing he saw was the governor and a woman inside and the two of them snuggling together, embracing. There was nothing more than that, snuggling, and they had their clothes on."

The Daily News, coincidentally, had just run a story claiming that trooper presence in the mansion had recently been reduced "after a number of incidents in which the governor and First Lady Michelle Paige Paterson were 'startled' by troopers." When State Police Superintendent Harry Corbitt wrote a letter to the Post editors denying these stories, Daily News Albany chronicler Elizabeth Benjamin saw fit to mention the exposé rumors publicly for the first time. At around the same time, Observer media reporter John Koblin tweeted that he'd been hearing the same buzz. "Anyone hearing about NYT bombshell on Paterson?" he asked. "Heard big, damanging story comin. [sic] been working for weeks, but still not published yet."

The Times hasn't run anything yet, but we hear they are definitely coming up with something big about the Paterson administration. A spokeswoman had no comment, but regardless, if these rumors continue to gain speed online or even in print, it would seem damage is already being done to Paterson. Aspiring gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo, for example, can't be too chagrined about a Paterson scandal story that, like Cuomo himself, is gaining momentum by running just under the surface.

Update: Over the weekend, it was reported that the story would appear in the Times on Monday, after which Paterson would immediately resign. But the morning has come and gone, and no story has been published yet. Meanwhile, the Associated Press has reported that Paterson was in meetings and on phone calls with state Democratic leaders all weekend regarding the oncoming story (though his team claims the calls and meetings were just standard procedure and unrelated to the Times's work). Paterson's reps are spreading a counter-rumor that the story will be no big deal, and won't even appear on the front page of the paper. Meanwhile, even Paterson foe Rick Lazio, who is expected to run against him in this year's governor's race, has come to Paterson's defense. "The rumors about the governor are a sad reflection of Albany politics. No public official deserves to be the subject of over a week of innuendo and nasty speculation. If the New York Times is working on or has a story then they should confirm or print it," Lazio told the Times-Union. "If they do not, then they have an obligation to stop this rumor mongering right now. Common decency demands it."
Update 2: A source tells us "The piece is PG-13, not XXX."

Related: For more insight into David Paterson's mind, check out Chris Smith's profile from this week's New York.

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Photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images