Bartoletti: Paterson-O’Byrne Arrangement May Be a Little Too Cute

ALBANY—Last night, David Paterson insisted that his former top aide Charles O’Byrne is not a consultant and will not advise the governor on the activities of government.

“He’s a volunteer, and we haven’t decided what his role will be,” Paterson said in a subdued tone last night after speaking to the Conference of Mayors. “He doesn’t have a public role. He has no government role. He’s going to volunteer on my campaign.”

(Liz posted video of this here.)

O’Byrne’s official non-return means that he would not have to file ethical disclosure forms containing information about outside income, and his correspondence and records would not be subject to Freedom of Information requests.

According to Barbara Bartoletti, legislative director of the League of Women Voters and a longtime advocate of a more-open government, that’s a potential problem.

“There is one thing being a full-time volunteer and another thing being an unpaid consultant to a campaign. And nobody is saying he shouldn’t do that—the governor is obviously being up-front about that,” she said by phone yesterday. “But how do you differentiate that from being an unpaid volunteer giving the governor advise on state matters? And if that’s the case, how do we really know who is the “go-to-guy” on the budget or any other matter coming along. If he is on paid staff, you can see what he’s making and there’s a line of command. This is maybe just too cute by half.”

Bartoletti: Paterson-O’Byrne Arrangement May Be a Little Too Cute