Paterson admits to affairs with several women

(AP) Gov. David Paterson revealed Tuesday that he had affairs with several women, including a state employee, since about 1999. The admission came one day after Paterson replaced Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who resigned amid a sex scandal involving high-priced prostitutes."Several years ago, there were a number of women," Gov. Paterson said.He said he broke no laws - criminal or campaign finance ? and never advanced the career of the one state employee with whom he had an affair. None of the women have business before the state and no public or campaign money was spent on the affairs, he said. He said is not involved in an affair now.On Monday, his first day in office, Paterson told The Daily News he had an affair during a rough patch in his marriage between 1999 until 2001. Paterson said he provided the information to thenewspaper in an attempt to end rumors about the affair. At a press conference Tuesday, he and his wife spoke publicly about the infidelity in their marriage.Paterson said he didn't reveal the affairs as a senator, Senate minority leader or lieutenant governor because no one had asked him and he came forward because he didn't want the rumors to cloud his governorship.Paterson rose from the lieutenant governor's office after Eliot Spitzer resigned last week amid allegations that he hired a call girl from a high-priced escort service. Paterson and his wife, Michelle Paige Paterson, stood before reporters and answered numerous questions about the new governor's affairs.The Patersons say both had affairs during a time when their marriage was headed toward divorce. But they admitted the affairs, sought counseling and have built a stronger marriage and family, both Patersons said. "I do not feel I have broken my commitment to the citizens of New York state," said Paterson, who is legally blind and New York's first black governor. But Paterson said it was time to make the infidelities public so the information couldn't be used to try to compromise him as governor."I didn't want to be blackmailed," he said.His wife stood by the governor's side and answered questions directed to her."We dealt with it as a family," she said. "A marriage has peaks and valleys ... no marriage is perfect.""I think we have a marriage like many Americans, maybe even like many of you," the governor told reporters. "Elected officials are really just reflections of the people we represent."Paterson's rise followed a dramatic plunge for Spitzer, who was elected with an overwhelming share of the vote and who had vowed to root out corruption at the state Capitol. Federal prosecutors must still decide whether to pursue charges against Spitzer. The married father of three teenage girls was accused of spending tens of thousands of dollars on prostitutes -including one in Washington the night before Valentine's Day.Assembly Democratic Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat, said Tuesday he doesn't believe Paterson was weakened by the disclosure that he and his wife had affairs, he doesn't think it affects the ability to get things done in Albany and the story should be over. "This Albany press corps was in a feeding frenzy, looking for anything they could do to find it," Silver said. "And basically what David Paterson did was say, 'Stop bothering people. Here's thestory. And that's it."'Republican Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno said Paterson's personal life is Paterson's business only as long as it doesn't interfere with how he governs. He said he expects Paterson to continue to handle himself properly, and the important thing now is to finish a budget. Public reacts to Paterson?s admission Paterson takes over as governor

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