Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

NYT: Paterson Broke Ethics Law on Receiving Gifts, Panel Charges

Here’s something to rangel over…

The state Commission on Public Integrity charged Gov. David A. Paterson on Wednesday with violating state ethics laws when he secured free tickets to the opening game of the World Series from the Yankees last fall for himself and others. The announcement came as the governor, already mired in scandal, met with his cabinet and insisted he would stay in office.

In addition to violating the state’s ban on gifts to public officials, the commission found that Mr. Paterson falsely testified under oath that he had intended to pay for the tickets for his son and his son’s friend. The commission determined that Mr. Paterson had never intended to pay for the tickets and only did so after inquiries from the media, after which he submitted a backdated check as payment.

The commission had referred the case to the Albany County District Attorney, P. David Soares, as well as Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo, for further investigation. Mr. Cuomo is already investigating Mr. Paterson’s role in allegedly trying to suppress a domestic-violence case involving a close aide, David Johnson.

Mr. Johnson also attended the Yankees game in question and was involved in soliciting the tickets from Yankees officials. The tickets, with a face value of $425 each, seated them a few rows behind home plate.

State law forbids officials in the executive branch from soliciting or accepting gifts of more than nominal value from any lobbyist if the gift appears intended to sway the official. The Yankees organization is registered to lobby the Paterson administration, as well as the State Legislature, in connection with financing for the stadium.

Thanks to John Thorn.

Repoz Posted: March 03, 2010 at 07:24 PM | 36 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: business, yankees

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Nasty Nate Posted: March 03, 2010 at 07:43 PM (#3471877)
The tickets, with a face value of $425 each, seated them a few rows behind home plate.


This seems less than the regular season face value. Unless "few" means many...
   2. Loren F. Posted: March 03, 2010 at 07:54 PM (#3471892)
This is great coming from Patterson, who has tried to position himself as a hard-liner on ethics in Albany (and even vetoing a recent ethics bill because it was supposedly too soft).

What Maury Wills was to being a baseball manager, David Patterson is to being a governor. While I don't suspect Patterson of being significantly more corrupt than many other governors, his sheer incompetence (and lack of political instinct) is astounding.
   3. Craig Calcaterra Posted: March 03, 2010 at 07:54 PM (#3471894)
I have a lot of experience in public ethics laws relating to gifts to public officials. Almost every state has mirror image laws in which it is both illegal for the public official to accept valuable gifts and illegal for someone to give gifts to public officials.

So -- which member of the Yankees ownership group is going to get charged?
   4. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: March 03, 2010 at 07:57 PM (#3471898)
Wasn't he quoted somewhat recently saying 'he didn't ask for this(the work of being Gov.)' and that he only wanted to be a Lt. Gov?
   5. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: March 03, 2010 at 08:01 PM (#3471901)
Wasn't he quoted somewhat recently saying 'he didn't ask for this(the work of being Gov.)' and that he only wanted to be a Lt. Gov?
What he really wanted, apparently, was for Hillary to win the Presidency and Spitzer to make him Senator.
   6. aleskel Posted: March 03, 2010 at 08:03 PM (#3471906)
seated them a few rows behind home plate.

well that just chaffs: he took those seats away from someone who could actually appreciate the sightlines!
   7. JMPH Posted: March 03, 2010 at 08:04 PM (#3471908)
This seems less than the regular season face value. Unless "few" means many...

Paterson, of course, has no idea that he was actually in the upper deck at CitiField.

Edit: It makes me feel better not to have made the first blind joke.
   8. Van Lingle Mungo Jerry Posted: March 03, 2010 at 08:47 PM (#3471939)
So -- which member of the Yankees ownership group is going to get charged?


Here's a copy of CPI's report. The Yankees appear to have played this one by the book. From the report:

The day before Game One, on October 27, 2009, the Yankees contacted Johnson and
asked him where to submit an invoice for the five tickets. Smith Tr. p. 15. Based upon the representations that Johnson made, the Yankees did not expect payment for any tickets because the tickets were for official business. They then requested a letter from the Governor’s Counsel confirming that the tickets were for official business.4 Smith Tr. pp. 15, 19. On October 28, 2009, at 3:41 PM, Johnson’s assistant forwarded a letter from Kiernan that the Governor was attending the game in his official capacity. EC-250. Then, without having received any payment, the Yankees released five tickets for the game.


Footnote 4 states:

During the Commission’s investigation, Yankees representatives testified that when a public official requests tickets to a Yankees game, it is Yankees’ policy to either obtain payment for the tickets or to obtain a letter from the public official’s counsel stating that the tickets are for official business. The Yankees representatives further testified that payment or the letter must be received prior to tickets being released.


I think the Yankees are in the clear.
   9. Craig Calcaterra Posted: March 03, 2010 at 09:17 PM (#3471972)
That doesn't make any sense to me. At least in ethics law parlance, being on "official business" makes it worse. The man is being given something of substantial value for carrying out "official business." Indeed, the usual defense to such charges -- that rarely works, but still -- is that the gift was a personal thing from a friend. The implication being that everyone knows that giving a public official something for carrying out his duties is the reason for the law in the first place.

And that aside, the Yankees employ registered lobbyists. The laws in most states (I'll admit I haven't thoroughly researched New York's) provide that the reason for the gift doesn't matter when it's a lobbyist or a lobbyist's client giving it (i.e. no quid pro quo required). There's a blanket no-no on lobbyists giving valuable gifts. And if the letter of official business is a real defense, every single public official would simply send out letters to that effect every time they accepted tickets for anything.

I'm not saying this is super serious from the Yankees' perspective -- often the giver doesn't get charged because there's a sense that people get strong-armed -- but I'm not sure those passages make things better for them.
   10. Van Lingle Mungo Jerry Posted: March 03, 2010 at 09:27 PM (#3471986)
Craig, more from the CPI's report (not sure why the previous link failed):

There are limited circumstances in which the offering or solicitation of a gift may be
permissible. In Advisory Opinion No. 08-01, the Commission determined that the exceptions set
forth in the Legislative Law 1-c(j)(i) – (xi) would be considered “permissible gifts” when offered to a State officer or employee by a disqualified source. Therefore, one permissible gift is complimentary attendance at a widely attended event set forth in Legislative Law §1-c(j)(ii),
specifically:

Complimentary attendance, food and beverage offered by the
sponsor of the event that is widely attended or was in good faith
intended to be widely attended, when attendance at the event is
related to the attendee’s duties and responsibilities as a public
official, or allows the public official to perform a ceremonial
function appropriate to his or her position.


Try the link at the bottom of this press release.
   11. Bob Tufts Posted: March 03, 2010 at 09:31 PM (#3471998)
With all these odd political events happening, I'm waiting for Clemens' attorneys to say "how can you charge Roger with perjury and ignore the lying on Congressional disclousre documents by Rep. Charlie Rangel?".
   12. Swedish Chef Posted: March 03, 2010 at 09:34 PM (#3472005)
That doesn't make any sense to me. At least in ethics law parlance, being on "official business" makes it worse.

If the president visited a ballpark, would he be expected to pay?
   13. Craig Calcaterra Posted: March 03, 2010 at 09:47 PM (#3472022)
If the president visited a ballpark, would he be expected to pay?


I don't know how that's handled because presidents never visit Ohio for that kind of stuff, but if he was simply given good box seats and was told to enjoy the game, yes. If he was there throwing out the first pitch, did a quick meet and greet and left, no. There's a subjectivity to the charging of such things. That said, Van Lingo Mungo Jerry's last post seems to carve out an exception for that sort of thing (no such exception in Ohio, which is what I'm most familiar with).

But query: if the Yankees are in the clear for giving tickets under the exception VLMJ quotes, how can Patterson not be in the clear too? These laws tend to be mirror image for the giver and the recipient of the gift.
   14. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: March 03, 2010 at 09:50 PM (#3472027)
But query: if the Yankees are in the clear for giving tickets under the exception VLMJ quotes, how can Patterson not be in the clear too? These laws tend to be mirror image for the giver and the recipient of the gift.
People--at least people in New York--like the Yankees. They do not like Patterson.

Also, I believe Clinton threw out the first pitch at Jacobs Field once.
   15. Steve Treder Posted: March 03, 2010 at 09:57 PM (#3472030)
What Maury Wills was to being a baseball manager, David Patterson is to being a governor. While I don't suspect Patterson of being significantly more corrupt than many other governors, his sheer incompetence (and lack of political instinct) is astounding.

He does appear to be a complete nincompoop, doesn't he.
   16. Something Other Posted: March 03, 2010 at 10:03 PM (#3472035)
I can't believe how blind he was to the ramifications of this. The tunnel vision was remarkable, the lack of foresight reprehensible. Anyone could have seen this coming. No one needed a seeing eye dog to navigate the shoals of this fiasco.
   17. God Posted: March 03, 2010 at 10:17 PM (#3472047)
Obama was at the Duke-Georgetown game a few weeks ago in a non-ceremonial, fan-only capacity. Did he pay for those courtside seats, I wonder?
   18. Something Other Posted: March 03, 2010 at 11:11 PM (#3472096)
If you don't know, who would?
   19. Stormy JE Posted: March 03, 2010 at 11:15 PM (#3472098)
Cuomo is a declared candidate for Paterson's job. Is there a bit of a conflict of interest here?
   20. Craig Calcaterra Posted: March 03, 2010 at 11:27 PM (#3472104)
Obama was at the Duke-Georgetown game a few weeks ago in a non-ceremonial, fan-only capacity. Did he pay for those courtside seats, I wonder?


Who knows?

But to be clear: in most states, most people can give gifts to public officials as long as the public official discloses them on his or her annual ethics forms. That includes dinners and tickets and sorts of things. Lobbyists or people who otherwise have substantial business before the public official's office or legislative body, however, can't give gifts of a substantial value to those people at all. So basically, a lot of it depends on who's doing the giving, and when it's not a restricted person, as long as the pol discloses the gift, it's good.

The Yankees have business before the state of NY, however, and employ lobbyists to lobby NY, and as the article says, this isn't a disclosure violation. This is a gift he should not have been able to take. Which is what led me to ask, if he can't take it, why can the Yankees give it?
   21. joeysdadjoe Posted: March 03, 2010 at 11:28 PM (#3472108)
Has there ever been a worse politician,someone less prepared then Paterson? Even Sarah Palin isn't this bad....at least when she stayed in Alaska.
   22. Danny Posted: March 03, 2010 at 11:38 PM (#3472116)
Cuomo is a declared candidate for Paterson's job. Is there a bit of a conflict of interest here?

No, he's not, and he won't declare until the investigation is over.
   23. God Posted: March 03, 2010 at 11:39 PM (#3472117)
Well, clearly the Steinbrenners don't have a history of improper political donations, so they should be in the clear on this one.
   24. Stormy JE Posted: March 04, 2010 at 12:06 AM (#3472125)
@22. Thanks for the correction, but he is a *presumed* candidate for governor. I am still curious as to why he did not recuse himself from the investigations involving Paterson.
   25. SteveM. Posted: March 04, 2010 at 01:20 AM (#3472166)
The guy is blind-why does he need good seats in the first place?
   26. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: March 04, 2010 at 01:21 AM (#3472167)
That doesn't make any sense to me. At least in ethics law parlance, being on "official business" makes it worse. The man is being given something of substantial value for carrying out "official business."

According to TFA, the "official business" would be in a ceremonial capacity. i.e. throwing out the first pitch. Or perhaps a charity appearance before the game, or something like that. Of course, that did not happen here.

Indeed, the usual defense to such charges -- that rarely works, but still -- is that the gift was a personal thing from a friend.

That was what Paterson originally claimed, that he was invited by Randy Levine, who was a law school classmate. But that was not true.

And if the letter of official business is a real defense, every single public official would simply send out letters to that effect every time they accepted tickets for anything.

I'm sure the law requires that they *actually* be there on official business, and if they aren't, sending such a letter is lying and illegal. Furthermore, even if Paterson was there on "official business", I'm sure his 4 or 5 guests (including his son and son's friend) were not, and he probably should have paid for those tickets.
   27. bunyon Posted: March 04, 2010 at 01:35 AM (#3472173)
I ask in all honesty, with the vast scope of modern American government, who doesn't have business before these people? How can anyone give a gift and claim not to hope to get some benefit?
   28. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: March 04, 2010 at 01:48 AM (#3472183)
According to TFA, the "official business" would be in a ceremonial capacity. i.e. throwing out the first pitch. Or perhaps a charity appearance before the game, or something like that. Of course, that did not happen here.


That sounds like a great idea, having the blind guy throw out the first pitch.

Usually, they just have him umpire.
   29. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: March 04, 2010 at 02:13 AM (#3472196)
I ask in all honesty, with the vast scope of modern American government, who doesn't have business before these people? How can anyone give a gift and claim not to hope to get some benefit?

People who don't work or live in New York? Of course, if you weren't hoping to get some benefit, why would you give a gift in the first place?

I suppose you could hope for a non-political benefit. If I owned a restaurant, I'd let Paterson eat there for free--not because I want a political favor, but because I want the publicity of having a famous person eat at my restaurant. Especially if he'd like it and tell his rich/powerful friends about it.
   30. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: March 04, 2010 at 02:28 AM (#3472201)
If I owned a restaurant, I'd let Paterson eat there for free--not because I want a political favor, but because I want the publicity of having a famous person eat at my restaurant. Especially if he'd like it and tell his rich/powerful friends about it.

So Patterson tells all of his rich, powerful friends that your food is great, AND that you'll give it away without asking for any political favors. Now you're feeding the whole state senate.
   31. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: March 04, 2010 at 03:21 AM (#3472223)
That sounds like a great idea, having the blind guy throw out the first pitch.
I actually saw him throw out the first pitch at a Met game! (Cue the jokes about how he was sighted before he associated with the Mets.) All things considered, it was pretty good. I've certainly seen sighted people throw far, far worse pitches.
   32. Athletic Supporter is USDA certified lean Posted: March 04, 2010 at 03:25 AM (#3472227)
That's the thing about No Cure for the Francoeur. He's not afraid to have a business model where he gives away free food to tons of people. Gotta respect that.
   33. Francoeur Sans Gages (AlouGoodbye) Posted: March 04, 2010 at 03:46 AM (#3472242)
But query: if the Yankees are in the clear for giving tickets under the exception VLMJ quotes, how can Patterson not be in the clear too? These laws tend to be mirror image for the giver and the recipient of the gift.
The Yankees are in the clear because they had good reason to believe that Paterson was going there on official business (they got the letter), meaning they gave the tickets in good faith. Paterson is not in the clear because he wasn't going there on official business.
   34. PerroX Posted: March 04, 2010 at 03:54 AM (#3472246)
it's pretty pitiful when pols and businesses can't avoid breaking the laws they wrote in the first place..this is what you get for throwing the previous ####### out for consorting with whores..a whore takes his place.

What an #######.
   35. Greg Goosen at 30 Posted: March 04, 2010 at 04:07 AM (#3472255)
#21 Let's see...Thomas Eagleton was so inept as Democratic Vice President nominee in 1972 he had to resign just a few days after bein nominated.

If David Patterson is Maury wills, then who is Eliot Spitzer? Tim Johnson?
   36. Something Other Posted: March 06, 2010 at 10:23 PM (#3474107)
#21 Let's see...Thomas Eagleton was so inept as Democratic Vice President nominee in 1972 he had to resign just a few days after bein nominated.
By "inept" do you mean "had psychiatric issues", something he certainly should have divulged to the McGovern campaign?

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

News

All News | Prime News

Old-School Newsstand


BBTF Partner

Dynasty League Baseball

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Ray (CTL)
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogOT - NBA Thread, Start of the 2019-2020 Season
(823 - 10:40am, Nov 14)
Last: jmurph

NewsblogHe told a kid to slide. Then he got sued.
(58 - 10:40am, Nov 14)
Last: What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face?

NewsblogPrimer Dugout (and link of the day) 11-14-2019
(1 - 10:39am, Nov 14)
Last: Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee)

NewsblogdeGrom repeats, JV edges Cole for Cy honors
(10 - 10:35am, Nov 14)
Last: Cooper Nielson

NewsblogOT- Soccer Thread- October 2019
(469 - 10:24am, Nov 14)
Last: Mefisto

NewsblogAfter failed soccer endeavor, Mike Piazza set to manage Italian National Baseball Team
(2 - 10:12am, Nov 14)
Last: Crispix Attacksel Rios

NewsblogPadres unveil new brown and gold color scheme
(22 - 10:10am, Nov 14)
Last: Infinite Yost (Voxter)

NewsblogThe Astros stole signs electronically in 2017 | The Athletic (paywall)
(161 - 9:55am, Nov 14)
Last: The Duke

NewsblogMLB minimum salary rises $8,500 to $563,500 next season
(3 - 9:54am, Nov 14)
Last: DL from MN

NewsblogBoras bashes lack of competition, senses faster-paced market
(2 - 9:41am, Nov 14)
Last: eric

Hall of MeritMock 2020 Modern Baseball Ballot
(42 - 9:05am, Nov 14)
Last: Rusty Priske

NewsblogAngels hire Tony La Russa as baseball operations special assistant
(21 - 8:55am, Nov 14)
Last: Ben Broussard Ramjet

NewsblogAcing it: Success of Nats, Astros puts attention on starters
(7 - 8:20am, Nov 14)
Last: Rally

NewsblogGiants pick ousted Phillies manager Gabe Kapler to succeed Bruce Bochy
(18 - 7:47am, Nov 14)
Last: Never Give an Inge (Dave)

NewsblogAL ROY Alvarez unanimous, NL ROY Alonso 1 shy
(15 - 12:19am, Nov 14)
Last: Walt Davis

Page rendered in 0.4652 seconds
46 querie(s) executed