Updated 1:11 p.m. | The state ethics commission has fined Gov. David A. Paterson $62,125 for soliciting and accepting five free tickets to the 2009 World Series from the New York Yankees.
The Commission on Public Integrity noted that the Yankees have “myriad and continuing” issues before state government, including real estate, stadium development and tax matters, creating a clear conflict of interest for Mr. Paterson.
In its finding, the commission also concluded that the governor had lied about his acceptance of the tickets, saying that Mr. Paterson’s testimony, in which he said he always intended to pay for them, was refuted by his own staff, Yankees officials and documentary evidence, “not to mention common sense.”
“The moral and ethical tone of any organization is set at the top,” said Michael G. Cherkasky, the commission’s chairman. “Unfortunately, the governor set a totally inappropriate tone by his dishonest and unethical conduct. Such conduct cannot be tolerated by any New York State employee, particularly our governor.”
The commission’s report comes four months after an independent counsel accused Mr. Paterson of misleading state investigators in the case and asked the Albany County district attorney to determine whether Mr. Paterson should be prosecuted for perjury. The status of the district attorney’s inquiry is not known.
In its report, the commission rejected a hearing officer’s recommendation of a much smaller fine, saying ethics rules must be applied “exactingly to those at the top.”
“The governor solicited tickets from a registered lobbyist,” the commission said, referring to the Yankees. “When members of the media learned of his conduct, he attempted to cover up his misdeeds” by backdating a check, and when questioned under oath about the check, “the governor told a story” that was not true, the commission concluded.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Paterson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Read the commission’s findings here (pdf).