Penny-Stock Pataki

“It’s tremendous,” the Hon. George Pataki said at a party last year, standing inside a brand-new, 36-foot geodesic dome. It had just been built for a biodegradable plastics company named Perf Go Green, whose board he’d joined the previous spring. There was artificial grass on the ground and music from instruments called the drum orb and earth harp.

A few months earlier, the former New York governor’s picture was featured in penny-stock promotions pitching the company: Emails said that buyers could make millions. But a spokesman told the Post then that Mr. Pataki hadn’t known about them, and the scandal didn’t last long. “I’m honored to be a part of it, particularly standing here in this Earth Dome,” he said to the crowd at the party, with one arm in the air. “It is just terrific.”

The company did not do so well. Last month, according to S.E.C. filings, Mr. Pataki resigned from Perf Go Green’s board, along with his longtime associate Charles Gargano, the former Empire State Development Corporation chairman, and the get-rich author David Bach.

Two weeks later, its chief executive, Anthony Tracy, left, too. “There’s really nothing left of Perf Go Green,” Mr. Gargano said from Palm Beach. The company, whose stock rose above $3 after he and Mr. Pataki were named to its board, was trading at $.05 earlier this week.

But the former governor has already moved on to another over-the-counter stock. This month, exactly a week after Perf Go Green’s CEO stepped down, Mr. Pataki was named to the advisory board of Mesa Energy Holdings, a natural-gas exploration company focused on a New York section of the Marcellus Shale, a gargantuan gas-bearing rock.

If post-gubernatorial life is supposed to be relatively tranquil, the world of penny stocks is not. They are avoided by serious investors because of thin trading and low share prices, which leave them open to manipulation. S.E.C. investigations are commonplace. In the two weeks since Mr. Pataki joined Mesa, two brightly colored promotions touting his involvement have been making the rounds. “Urgent,” says one. “You can profit from America’s New Energy Revolution. Discover how Mesa Energy Holdings could skyrocket 545% in the next 12 months.”

“Even former New York Governor George Pataki,” says the other, “has been leading the charge.”

PERF GO GREEN HOLDINGS began life as a company that set out to provide help to non-English-speaking Hispanic people in North Carolina, S.E.C. filings say, “but it did not establish operations in connection with its business plan.” The retooled firm went public in May 2008, offering products like 16-Gallon Extra Tall Kitchen Trash Bags and Kitty Litter Pan Liners.

Penny-Stock Pataki