David Paterson’s steep nosedive in approval ratings stems from a lot of things, but nothing more public and awkward than his bungling of the appointment of Hillary Clinton’s replacement in the Senate when she became secretary of State. Not only did he needlessly drag out the process, but when front-runner Caroline Kennedy pulled out of the contest at the eleventh hour, his office deliberately leaked nasty and seemingly untrue rumors about her. Now, a gay-marriage proposal and several budget bungles later, most New Yorkers have moved past that kerfuffle — but not three government-watchdog groups. The New York Public Interest Research Group, Common Cause New York, and the Citizens Union appealed in a three-page letter to the Commission on Public Integrity (the state’s top ethics panel) to investigate the leaks from Paterson’s office regarding Kennedy, and to determine whether any laws were broken. According to the Times, the appeal cites the Public Officers Law, which bars someone like Paterson from sharing “confidential information acquired by him in the course of his official duties,” among other accusations. Though the letter has been in the Commission’s hands for two months, no decision has yet been made over whether it will probe Paterson. If an investigation proceeds, it will no doubt cause (more) trouble for Paterson’s election hopes next year.