Opinion: David Paterson feels Eric Adams’ pain

New York’s 55th governor writes that the New York City mayor is the target of a “well-organized defamation of character campaign” that he knows all too well.


DECEMBER 21, 2023 01:47 PM ET

Last week as the press bandied about rumors about a pending indictment of Mayor Eric Adams, I had an unwelcome bout of déjà vu. I harkened back to February 7, 2010, when as governor I took a rare night off to watch the Superbowl.

As the Saints and Colts battled, a news ticker crawled across the bottom of the screen announcing that I, Gov. Paterson, would resign the next morning at 10:00 am over a scandal that would dwarf the resignation of my predecessor. My office was made aware that three separate news agencies were contacted at the kickoff of the game with this dubious claim. This was the culmination of a hail of rumors, innuendos, and lies that had been spread about my administration and myself for six weeks – all without proof. Yet here I was, fighting shadows.

I suggested to my secretary that we not deny such a claim as we had in the past and simply schedule a press conference as if the reports were true, in order to assure maximum interest and attendance. At such an event I would welcome the media and alert them to the fact that there would actually be no resignation and that they needed to investigate the motives of whomever was spreading these falsehoods. I would close the press conference without taking questions and challenge them to seek the truth. It would now be undeniable that agents whose purpose was to get me out of office were the catalyst for this defamation.

Because if you let them sling enough mud, an unaware public will presume that where there is smoke, there must also be fire.

Unfortunately, I was convinced not to hold the press conference – which may have been my biggest mistake as governor. The next day the media reported that the resignation had been postponed and would occur later in the week. After that, everyone believed it was imminent and I was guilty, despite no evidence.

Eventually I was cleared of wrongdoing by a commission run by former Chief Judge Judith Kaye, and I paid a fine for the “crime of the century” involving some Yankees tickets. I served out my term as Governor, but it was the end of my public career. 

Nearly fourteen years later, this is all in the past. But once again a well-organized defamation of character campaign has reared its ugly head. This time it has reached the door of another prominent elected official: Mayor Eric Adams.

I have known the Mayor for over 30 years as a police captain, a state senator, and borough president. Personally, I feel he is a man of great character and faith. It is not my place to comment on any investigations or actions for which I have little information. However, there are forces that are working to discredit him and impede his service. They have even taken a poll to determine who would win a special election if his honor was forced to resign or be convicted of a crime.

The point of all this activity is clearly to promote the notion that the mayor’s service is ending – effectively trying to force him from office without going through all the trouble of democracy or justice.

I believe that the mayor has earned the right to defend himself in this situation and that scurrilous rumors about indictments, resignations and adverse speculation need to stop. I fear that the adverse treatment of public servants prior to any official accusations or convictions sullies the reputation of our great city.

Many of the allegations against his honor are “demurrer.” This is an old English word which means that even if what you are saying is true, it doesn’t constitute a cause of action. In this case, it doesn’t constitute a crime. So Happy Holidays to you, Mr. Mayor, as well as those of us who still believe in a fairness doctrine. May this season be one of peace – and quiet –  from those who do not.

 David Paterson is the 55th Governor of New York

Article originally appeared here

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *