NEW YORK — Influential black leaders in New York City said Thursday night that they believe Gov. David Paterson should stay in office amid allegations he and his staff interfered in a domestic violence case involving a top governor's aide.
Meeting in a Harlem soul food restaurant that is the center of power for black politics in New York, the group led by the Rev. Al Sharpton agreed that Paterson should try to withstand the violence scandal and new ethics charges related to World Series tickets.
The group said they want to meet with the governor to discuss his ability to continue to govern.
Sharpton, flanked by former Mayor David Dinkins and Hazel Dukes, former president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said, ""Many of us have the view the governor should continue to serve."
Outside the restaurant, Sharpton was asked explicitly whether he thought the governor should stay in office.
"I'm the convener," he said. "There were people on both sides."
The meeting came the same day a third key administration official quit because of the domestic violence scandal. Communications Director Peter Kauffmann said he could not "in good conscience" stay on because of the controversy.
"We all believe the governor should be permitted to serve out the remainder of term," said former Mayor David Dinkins.
Former state Comptroller H. Carl McCall made a case for Paterson to stay, while others reportedly were angry inside closed meeting with city Public Advocate Bill de Blasio called for Paterson to resign.
Earlier, McCall on FOX Business Network said it was important for the group to be united on the question of whether Paterson has the ability to lead.
"I don't want to go out and do this on my own," McCall said, noting that he had his doubts about whether Paterson can continuer. "I think it would be more meaningful if we come to some collective decision about that and then communicate it by a lot of us, who, as you know, for a long time have been very, very strong supporters of the governor."
Paterson hasn't been charged with any crimes and has said his side of the story will clear him. But he said he can't divulge elements of his side of the story because he said it would interfere with the investigation he asked Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to take on.
Gormley reported from Albany. Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Ula Ilnytzky and Colleen Long in New York and Valerie Bauman in Albany.