A long-awaited New York Times story on David Paterson's administration has finally been published, and it focuses almost entirely on a single Paterson aide: David Johnson.
For weeks if not months, rumors have been building that the Times was working on a story so scandalous that it would force the governor's resignation. The story published this evening seems to fall short of that standard, but it's still troubling news for Paterson.
Johnson, now 37, was charged with selling cocaine to an undercover police officer when he was 18, the Times reports. He eventually pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years probation.
The profile also suggests Johnson punched a girlfriend in October. The governor's office disputes that claim, and Johnson was never charged with a crime.
But the profile also suggests that Johnson, a former intern turned driver, has risen too quickly through Paterson's inner circle, assuming the role of gatekeeper and even campaign strategist.
From the piece:
Mr. Johnson’s increasing prominence, and Mr. Paterson’s reliance on him, have worried some veteran aides to the governor, who themselves are trying to assist Mr. Paterson as he faces both an enormous fiscal crisis and a daunting election effort. They would not speak by name, but more than four current or former officials expressed concern that Mr. Johnson and another aide, a former state trooper, had become the governor’s innermost circle and were simply not best equipped to help him tackle the multiple challenges facing him.
Some heads of significant government agencies have said they feel they have to go through Mr. Johnson, often known as D. J., to get to the governor. And several current and former administration officials said that Mr. Johnson’s dressing down of the governor’s Washington office in September contributed to the departure of several seasoned people from the office.
Missing from the profile, however, is any bombshell about the governor himself. In the weeks preceding publication, the governor's office reportedly complained to the Times that inaccurate rumors about the piece were going unchecked. While it's an open question whether or not the Times had a responsibility to bat those rumors down, it's clear now that the piece certainly does not spill any new details about the governor's personal life.