Spitzer successor had affair in Manhattan hotel (+video)

By David Usborne

It was the moment that dignity would be returned to state government. Eliot Spitzer, felled by his sex-for-cash improprieties, was no longer Governor of New York and David Paterson was taking the reins.

A pity then that by yesterday we were hearing of new slap-and-tickle naughtiness - from Mr Paterson no less.

As if Mr Spitzer hadn't shocked us enough. Now we had Mr Paterson's confessions. And what was that other newsbreak? Oh yes, three-way sex and the ex-Governor of New Jersey.

What aphrodisiacs are these folks taking? Mr Paterson, who is blind, sat down with reporters from the New York Daily News within hours of his swearing in to bare his soul.

Yes, he said, his wife, Michelle, had gone through a bit of a bad patch and beginning in 1999 he had began his liaisons with a mistress in a Manhattan hotel that lasted two or three years.

Probably, this was a wise strategy. Rumours had been circulating in the corridors of the state legislature in Albany, where the swearing-in took place, for days. Mr Paterson may have lanced the boil before it became truly troublesome.

"This was a marriage that appeared to be going sour at one point," he said. "But I went to counselling and we decided we wanted to make it work. Michelle is well aware of what went on."

It helps that his wife also acknowledged their past problems to the paper. It is a rival tabloid, the New York Post, that has carried tales of torrid three-ways involving James McGreevey shortly before he became Governor of New Jersey. They came from a former aide and chauffeur.

Mr McGreevey confirmed them as true but another of the participants, his soon-to-be ex-wife, Dana Matos, insisted they were not.

Mr McGreevey ceased to be New Jersey's governor nearly four years ago with his now famous "I-am-a gay-American" confession.

Yet, neither he nor Ms Matos seem able to stay out of the headlines. A bitter divorce is under way and last week, she wrote an article in The New York Times equating her experience with the humiliation suffered by Mr Eliot's wife, Silda Spitzer.

None of what she was saying - particularly her claims that her husband hid his sexuality in the marriage - sat well with the former chauffeur, Teddy Pedersen.

She must have known her husband was not entirely straight, he told the Post because of all the "Friday Night Specials" they spent together.

This, he claimed, is what they used to call the evenings when he, Mr McGreevey and Ms Matos would get together for a routine "hard-core consensual sex orgy".

Mr McGreevey had little to lose corroborating Mr Pedersen's tales. Mr Paterson may also have escaped bigger scandal, assuming - and he has insisted it to be so - he used no state money for his mistress misdemeanours.

At some point, meanwhile, the script of state government in New York and New Jersey will presumably become a little less Benny Hill and more about, well, government.

- INDEPENDENT

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