Governor David Paterson this afternoon expressed openness to what he called the “fascinating” idea of his former chief of staff Charles O’Byrne, who resigned last year in a tax scandal, returning to his administration.
Asked by reporters following an event at the Harvard Club this afternoon what he thought about a NY Post editorial today calling for O’Byrne’s return to steady an administration that is clearly in disarray, Paterson suggested that O’Byrne had repaid his debt to society for not paying taxes and said he’d be willing to discuss with O’Byrne the idea of coming back.
“Charles O’Byrne made a mistake. It’s one we can’t condone, but he paid for it and he underwent some pretty severe public criticism for it,” said Paterson. “It’s a fascinating idea. He’s out of the country—I believe he’s in Israel right now—and it’s a conversation I’d be willing to have with Charles.”
Pressed by reporters how serious he was about such a move, Paterson said, “I just read this today. There’s obviously been a lot of discussion about it. It’s certainly a conversation that I would have. I think people make mistakes, but they deserve a second chance after they’ve paid for what they’ve done.”
He argued that the controversy surrounding O’Byrne never centered on his competency.
“I’m just going to say that no one doubted that he wasn’t doing an excellent job,” said Paterson.
Asked to address the premise of the Post editorial, that his administration lacked focus and needed a steady hand on the wheel—one he isn’t providing—Paterson said, “There are a lot of issues that are going on in this state, a lot that needs to be addressed. Some of the reaction I think has been a bit out of bounds, but some of it has been fair, and I think that what is most important in a leader is that you recognize that you are as human and as imperfect as even the press that covers you.”
A few minutes later, Governor Jon Corzine, who also participated in the event—which happened to be about the press’ coverage of the economy—responded to a reporter who asked whether it was important for a governor to have a chief of staff that he completely trusted.
“Big time,” said Corzine.