Common Cause/NY Calls on Gov. Paterson to Resign

State's Fiscal Crisis Must Be Primary Concern for the State's Leaders, Good Government Group Says, Not Criminal Investigations and Allegations of Wrong-Doing

NEW YORK, NY (03/05/2010)(readMedia)-- Common Cause/New York today called upon Governor David Paterson to put the welfare of New York State ahead of his own personal concerns and resign as Governor. "Given the fiscal and governmental crisis enveloping our state, we at Common Cause/New York have come to the reluctant conclusion that it would be in the best interest of the people of the State of New York for Governor Paterson to step aside as governor," said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of the government watchdog organization. "As events have unfolded over the last several weeks, the allegations of abuse of power and criminal conduct by the governor have become the sole focus in Albany, at a time when the undivided attention and full creativity of the state's leaders must be devoted to addressing the state's very grave fiscal crisis."

Common Cause/NY believes that given the gravity of the serious budget shortfall facing the state, the fiscal choices that will have to be made will be controversial and difficult. Negotiating a budget that will require New Yorkers to accept significant sacrifices and fiscal austerity will require the greatest skill, undivided attention, and personal credibility of all involved. New Yorkers will be asked to accept extensive changes and diminutions in state aid and programs that are considered essential. Everyone who works to resolve our state's serious financial issues must put personal and political considerations aside and rise to the challenge. Sadly, the crisis surrounding the Governor raises significant concerns about his ability to successfully conduct negotiations that will address these challenges and result in a budget that will be accepted by New Yorkers as predicated on the public interest.

In calling for the governor's resignation, we are deeply cognizant that our system presumes any individual is innocent until proven guilty. It is our sincere hope that once the Gov. Paterson is able to devote his full attention to the serious allegations pending against him, he will be able to re-establish his reputation for integrity. However, Common Cause/New York recognizes it is the political and personal reality that the gravity of the allegations against him will significantly distract him from an already difficult budget negotiation and weaken his ability to bring those negotiations to a fair and successful conclusion.

"A resignation at this time should not be seen as an admission of guilt or wrong-doing," Ms Lerner said. "It would be a pragmatic, self-sacrificing action that will allow us to move forward, much as Gov. Paterson's appointment of Richard Ravitch did."

In July, Common Cause/NY called upon the Governor to appoint a Lieutenant Governor, advancing a then-novel interpretation of the state constitution and laws that has since been validated by the Court of Appeals. The line of succession is now clear; there is a Lieutenant Governor who can assume the office of Governor.

For the good of the state, we call on Governor Paterson to resign and allow Lieutenant Governor Ravitch to devote the full focus of the Executive to resolving our budget crisis.