Paterson’s Ethics Head Says Body Should Stay

ALBANY—Michael Cherkasky, the man David Paterson appointed to lead the embattled Commission on Public Integrity as he seeks to dissolve it, just issued a statement “respectfully” saying the governor was wrong to call for the commissioners to resign.

“After my full review, I respectfully submit, however, that the Governor’s request should be withdrawn,” Cherkasky wrote. “I believe the commissioners acted in an unbiased, non-partisan manner and arrived at conclusions that are supported by the facts if you accept the commissioners’ view of the credibility of witnesses and the circumstances the commission faced.”

Since Paterson’s call, the Integrity Commission Executive Director Herb Teitelbaum resigned. In doing so, he blasted a report by Inspector General Joseph Fisch that said he had acted in violation of the Public Officers Law during his investigation of the Troopergate probe.

Semi-relatedly, I was thinking about the Integrity Commission this morning during a court battle over the State Senate leadership. The two lawyers making the Democratic case—Andrew Celli and Richard Emery—both sit on the commission.

UPDATE: A spokesman for David Paterson sent along this statement:

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As he has stated publicly on many occasions, Governor Paterson’s request for the resignation of all commissioners from the Public Integrity Commission was not a reflection on the integrity or character of those individual commissioners — but rather a recognition that the public has lost its faith in the ethics process as a whole. The Governor believes the commissioners are individuals of unquestioned honesty and integrity. However, the fact that the Commission as a whole failed to address very serious allegations is further evidence that the system needs reform.

While he respects Chairman Cherkasky’s request, Governor Paterson continues to believe the ethics process in Albany is broken. This is why he is still calling for the resignation of every commission member and has proposed reform legislation that will create a truly independent, functional and efficient Government Ethics Commission.

Cherkasky Statement

Paterson’s Ethics Head Says Body Should Stay