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New York's governor got free World Series tickets

Mar 3, 2010, 4:15 PM EDT

Patterson World Series.jpgI am shocked, shocked to find that corruption is going on in Albany!

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.

One of my areas of specialty as a lawyer was public ethics laws. Indeed, I represented a whole bunch of public officials — and, more commonly, people who want to do business with public officials — who got into hot water over free tickets, hotel stays, meals and all manner of other perks, bribes and assorted nastiness.

It was a lot of fun! Especially when I got to ask my clients stuff like “now, you planned to pay for all of that, didn’t you . . .?” only to see the light slowly flicker in their eyes, and then go dark again.  When you see a politician struggle so mightily to lie only to come up short it actually restores your faith in the system a little.

Anyway, one thing I learned during all that work was that almost every state has a mirror-image gifts law. That means that it’s both illegal for a government official to accept valuable gifts from those who do business with the state — and the Yankees employ people who registered lobbyists with the State of New York — and illegal for people who are doing business with the government to give said official the gift.  We used to call it the “one steak, two charges” rule.

And yep, New York has such a law — The Lobbying Act — which prohibits a lobbyist or client of a lobbyist from offering or giving
a public official a gift more than nominal value unless under the circumstances
it is not reasonable to infer that the gift was intended to influence
such public official.  And in case you want to defend the Yankees and say that they weren’t trying to influence anyone, almost every state presumes that gifts of a certain value or exclusivity — which would totally cover primo World Series tickets — are intended to influence.

So, who on the Yankees gets charged with the ethics violation here?  I’m going to say A-Rod. It was probably his fault.

  1. Jonny5 - Mar 3, 2010 at 4:35 PM

    Why would he go? He can’t see…………….. is it the smell of hot dogs that drew him to go?
    I do 2nd the nomination for A-rod as the fall guy though. He cheated us! He cheated Patterson!,He cheated himself!!

  2. Jason @ IIATMS - Mar 3, 2010 at 4:44 PM

    wait, he’s BLIND.
    Maybe they gave him WNBA tickets and told him it was the Yanks.

  3. Rays fan - Mar 3, 2010 at 4:55 PM

    Gotta admit, my first reaction was “who cares?” even though the values of those tickets naturally dwarf levels that would get you in a lot of hot water in my workplace (not allowed to accept personal gifts, like dinner, worth more than $20 at any one time, or more than $50 per calendar year). Then I remembered the huge $$$ owners, including the Steinbrenners, have gotten from various state/city governments for new stadiums/upgrades & so on, not to mention the federal antitrust exemption. Any government figure therefore really ought to know better & realize the obvious conflict of interest.

  4. Ace - Mar 3, 2010 at 4:59 PM

    Ugh. I live in NYC, and just saying the name David Paterson around here invariably elicits a grumble of “that sack of $#!&” from whoever you’re talking to, across the spectrum.

  5. YankeesfanLen - Mar 3, 2010 at 5:16 PM

    Well, if you’re a politician (wink,wink) in the Tri-State area and some “friend” wants to take you for a game, you’re better off going to a World Series game than to a Mets-Pirates game where your disability is actually an advantage. This is kind of like the Bill Clinton “didn’t inhale”.

  6. Jack Meoffer - Mar 3, 2010 at 5:22 PM

    Good lord. They should of put him in front of a black and white tv in a bodega in Brooklyn and told him it was Yankee Stadium. With all the Spanish being spoken he would not know the difference.

  7. Dan in Katonah - Mar 3, 2010 at 5:23 PM

    I was always curious about the box the City had at Shea and I believe Yankee stadium. I know they were the titular owners, but who was in charge of divying up the seats? Never got any when I worked for the Man… and yes, like you Craig, I too am a lawyer.

  8. Phil - Mar 3, 2010 at 5:25 PM

    Man, New York is on quite a run with its governors. Although I must say how nice it is to see a pol on TV up to his a$$ in alligators who doesn’t speak with a drawl.

  9. Old Gator - Mar 3, 2010 at 5:41 PM

    The corporatist slugs that the Bush boys defecated onto the Supreme Court have already legalized most forms of corruption, so what’s the goddamned difference? According to that bunch of black-robed whores for their corporate pimps worldwide, it’s already fine to buy and sell members of congress, so what the hell, throw in governors too. And speaking of whores, I do hope David enjoyed the game as much as his predecessor enjoyed…uh…what was her name, anyway?

  10. zac - Mar 3, 2010 at 6:15 PM

    Man, New York is on quite a run with its governors.
    It’s really just two in a row, both of whom ran on the same ticket, of course. Pataki served three fairly quiet terms and was surprisingly popular, even in Albany and NYC, for a republican.

  11. Phil - Mar 3, 2010 at 6:19 PM

    Tony Scalia was appointed to the court by Ronnie Ray-gun, but point taken. Thomas was 41’s and the Katzenjammer Twins are Shrub’s.

  12. Joey B - Mar 3, 2010 at 6:25 PM

    “So, who on the Yankees gets charged with the ethics violation here? I’m going to say A-Rod. It was probably his fault.”
    I so much wanted to throw ARod in here and you’ve killed it for me.
    IRT Paterson, I liked the guy. I guess both Paterson and Spitzer were nuts to try to drag the legislature into the 21st century. Still, there is no way that Paterson could not know the magnitude of the mistake. So now he’s going down in flames, over a game that he can’t really see anyway, instead of paying $300 or so for the ticket?

  13. jimbeetle - Mar 3, 2010 at 7:04 PM

    World Series tix are the very least of Paterson’s problems at the moment. With other really serious stuff swirling around him he’s been forced to announce that he’s not going to run for another term, and smart money has him resigning if not this week, then by the end of the month.
    At least opening day will be right around the corner and he’ll have plenty of time to catch the odd weekday day game.

  14. George - Mar 3, 2010 at 7:50 PM

    REALLY? A post-dated check? That’s what infuriates me. I have to pay for my tickets in ADVANCE. As a matter of fact I had to prepay for games which were never played. Never have I heard such BS (even from a politician) as “he had intended to pay for the tickets”. If he intended to pay why wasn’t his credit card ready at the time of the order? Furthermore, what is the # he calls to get his tix? Is it available to the electing public? By the way JOEY B try $1,200 PER SEAT…

  15. Jaime - Mar 3, 2010 at 9:05 PM

    There were some questions about the legitimacy of Giuliani getting tickets AND rings:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/12/nyregion/12about.html

  16. tadthebad - Mar 3, 2010 at 9:41 PM

    I love it. Not one mention of his party in the post, and then the weak attempt to lay the blame on Republicans. It would be funny if it wasn’t all too predictable.

  17. Old Gator - Mar 3, 2010 at 11:47 PM

    Uh – where in that post do you see a “weak attempt to lay the blame on Republicans”? Damned if I can find it. I’d say a weak-witted right winger trying to find a weak attempt to lay the blame of Republicans would be far more predictable than any left wing attempt actually to lay the blame on Republicans, considering what a fiasco the Democrats have made out of everything they’ve touched the past couple of years.

  18. Gifts for Dad - Mar 5, 2010 at 10:58 AM

    Great Post! I personally really like your writing. This is a great website. I will make sure that I stop back again!.

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