The ascent of David Paterson to Governor after the sex scandal of Eliot Spitzer hit a bump on the first day. Paterson admitted to having an affair for several years, and now the state has to determine whether Paterson used public or campaign funds to pay for his trysts. Paterson’s honesty and humility, though, indicates that there is less here than meets the eye:

The thunderous applause was still ringing in his ears when the state’s new governor, David Paterson, told the Daily News that he and his wife had extramarital affairs.

In a stunning revelation, both Paterson, 53, and his wife, Michelle, 46, acknowledged in a joint interview they each had intimate relationships with others during a rocky period in their marriage several years ago.

In the course of several interviews in the past few days, Paterson said he maintained a relationship for two or three years with “a woman other than my wife,” beginning in 1999.

As part of that relationship, Paterson said, he and the other woman sometimes stayed at an upper West Side hotel — the Days Inn at Broadway and W. 94th St.

The people of New York just can’t catch a break. Just when Albany thought they could get back to work, the new administration opened a can of worms that will likely distract them from their business for another period of time. They have to determine whether two stays at the Quality Inn, which cost around $450 and which were charged to Paterson’s campaign as “office expenses”, paid for his mistress. If it did, Paterson might have the shortest tenure of any New York governor in history.

However, if not, then this is no one’s business but David and Michelle Paterson’s. As long as it didn’t involve exploiting a staff member, then it has no relation to public interest. Paterson gets paid to legislate, not to act as a paragon of moral virtue. Until last week, he never figured on being governor, and had led a quiet political life in the background, and it appears he believed that he never would have to face the kind of scrutiny he faces now. Paterson chose immediate and full disclosure — which should lead to the conclusion that he most likely didn’t misuse public funds for his trysts.

The measure of Paterson in this instance shouldn’t be his failings, but what he did to remedy them. He and his wife patched up their marriage, which is no easy feat, and appear to have grown past their difficulties. He broke no laws and showed remarkable honesty and humility. He’s already several steps ahead of Eliot Spitzer.

Tags: New York