Gov. Paterson admits affairs to avoid blackmail

Gov. David Paterson (D-N.Y.) admitted Tuesday to having several affairs, and that his wife did the same. He took office Monday following Gov. Eliot Spitzer's resignation amid a prostitution scandal.

On Monday, Paterson told the Daily News he had an affair during a "rough patch" in his marriage between 1999 and 2001. On Tuesday, he admitted to multiple affairs, including one with a state employee. He insisted that he did not advance her career and that no campaign or state money was spent on the affairs.Paterson said he didn't reveal the affairs as a state senator, Senate minority leader or lieutenant governor because no one had asked him. He said he came forward now because he didn't want the rumors to cloud his governorship.

"I didn't want to be blackmailed," Paterson said. "I do not feel I have broken my commitment to the people of New York state." He also stressed that no laws were broken.

Paterson and his wife, Michelle Paige Paterson, said they sought counseling to strengthen their marriage, which was headed for divorce. "We dealt with it as a family," his wife said. "A marriage has peaks and valleys. No marriage is perfect."

Some politicians are praising the governor's honesty. "This Albany press corps was in a feeding frenzy . . ." said Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. "What David Paterson did was say, 'Stop bothering people. Here's the story and that's it.'"

It seems many New Yorkers are also willing to give Paterson, the state's first black and first legally blind governor, the benefit of the doubt. "Marriage has problems," said one resident. "If they worked it out and they're happy, it doesn't affect how he governs the state of New York."

AP wire reports contributed to this story.

Click here for team coverage on how Paterson is inspiring blind children.

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