New York Governor Under Scrutiny for Allegedly Being Less Than 1/100 as Corrupt as Rudy Giuliani

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Aug. 18 2010 9:35 AM

New York Governor Under Scrutiny for Allegedly Being Less Than 1/100 as Corrupt as Rudy Giuliani

The New York State Commission on Public Integrity is investigating, and the New York Times is assiduously covering , allegations that Governor David Paterson inappropriately requested $2,125 worth of free World Series tickets from the New York Yankees.

The Yankees organization was registered at the time to lobby the Paterson administration in connection with the financing of a new Yankee Stadium . Violating the gift ban is a civil infraction, and the commission is seeking fines of roughly $93,000.

Six witnesses appeared at the hearing, including three executives from the Yankees who were involved in obtaining the tickets. Mr. Paterson’s aides requested five tickets with a value of $425 each on the day before the game, one for the governor; his son, Alex; a friend of Alex’s; and two aides.

Much of their testimony paralleled that given to the commission during its investigation last spring, indicating that Mr. Paterson and other aides who attended the game had not initially intended to pay for the tickets. "We asked for payment of the tickets, and we were informed that payment was not required," Brian Smith, a Yankee official, testified.

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Where did David Paterson get this outrageous idea that an elected official had the right to just waltz right into Yankee Stadium without paying? Maybe this Wayne Barrett story from the Village Voice, from 2007, could shed a little light :

Frequently ensconced in George Steinbrenner's eight-seat 31A box and four Legends 31AA seats next to the Yankee dugout while he was mayor, Giuliani and his many guests were also repeatedly given Yankee jackets, caps, autographed balls, and other gifts. "He would require gifts at every game," says a former close Giuliani aide, whose account is supported by both a Yankee source and an ex-cop assigned to the mayor. He even wanted a fitted cap with the World Series logo and other special caps, and the equipment management had to reach into the players' uniform case to find one for Giuliani's large head. The Giuliani group also raided the closet in Steinbrenner's office, even taking DiMaggio jackets with red piping for the mayor and guests. "They finally turned the spigot off in 2000 and said we just can't do it anymore," the aide recalls. The cop remembers jackets and balls—some signed by all the Yankees—stuffed in the back of the city cars they used to drive back from the stadium.

The Yankees say Giuliani paid for at least some of his tickets, though he did not pay when "he attended in his official capacity." They declined to specify which games were official, or to answer detailed questions about the other largesse. Several friends who sat with Giuliani at games, like Emergency Management Director Jerry Hauer, say they were never asked to pay. "I don't believe he paid for our seats," says Hauer. "I don't think anybody paid for them. It would have cost him a fortune.

The Voice estimated that Rudolph Giuliani's seats at Yankees games, over the course of his term, would have been worth $120,000. Then there was the matter of the diamond-studded championship rings that Giuliani collected after each of the team's four Giuliani-era World Series victories—exactly how long afterward was something about which the official paperwork and people's memories disagreed. Whether or not he took possession of the rings while still serving as mayor, Giuliani eventually reimbursed the Yankees $16,000 for the rings, which the Voice concluded were collectively worth more than $200,000.

Meanwhile, Giuliani was providing the Yankees with tens of millions of dollars in tax breaks, rent breaks, and other municipal handouts. But David Paterson took his kid to a ballgame.

Tom Scocca is the managing editor of Deadspin and the author of Beijing Welcomes You: Unveiling the Capital City of the Future.