State records seem to conflict with Governor Paterson's claim that a busy schedule as lieutenant governor required him on more than a dozen occasions to spend the night at expensive hotels in Albany on the taxpayer's dime rather than at his home in the suburbs.
A copy of Mr. Paterson's 2007 official schedule obtained by The New York Sun shows that sometimes Mr. Paterson opted to stay at a hotel the night before a day that was free of official morning activities.
Records suggest that many times Mr. Paterson's day did not begin until 9 a.m. On one occasion, he did not have his first scheduled meeting until 2 p.m.
Mr. Paterson used a state credit card to pay for 13 stays at Albany hotels — a boutique hotel near the Capitol Building called 74 State and the Crowne Plaza — between January 1, 2007, and late February of this year. As the New York Post reported yesterday, the rooms cost taxpayers between $100 and $500, for a total of more than $2,500.
Mr. Paterson, who had access to a chauffeured state vehicle, owns a house in the suburb of Guilderland, 11 miles away and about a 25-minute commute.
The hotel stays are the latest questionable expenditures by Mr. Paterson, whose use of political funds for private purposes as a state senator and lieutenant governor has also come under scrutiny.
Yesterday, at a press conference in Manhattan, Mr. Paterson said that as lieutenant governor, "I had to be at the call of the governor. And a few times I was asked to do a few things early on, and I was too far away." He said he stayed at hotels when he had "early morning meetings or press conferences" in order to "accommodate" Governor Spitzer.
A former top aide to Mr. Spitzer disputed Mr. Paterson's recollection of his role.
"David was not a big part in our morning news events," the aide said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "To say that he was needed to be with the governor? No." Records indicate that Mr. Paterson stayed at the Clarion Collection "74 State" hotel on June 21. That night, the last day the Legislature was in session before it recessed for the year, lawmakers were at the Capitol Building well past midnight.
The next day Mr. Paterson's first scheduled event of the day was slotted for 2 p.m., a meeting with his chief of staff, Charles O'Byrne. Mr. Paterson stayed at the hotel the next week on June 27. His last scheduled meeting that day concluded at 4 p.m. at the Capitol. On June 28, his schedule was empty until 3:30 p.m. when he was slated to depart for New York City. The only other scheduled activity of the day is at 6:30 p.m., listed as a "private event."
On August 15, after a couple of meetings at the Capitol, he had a 7 p.m. dinner in Albany with a Spitzer official, Olivia Golden, and then stayed at 74 State, according to records. He was scheduled to be back in New York City the next day by 12 p.m.
After traveling to Albany from the city in the late afternoon on October 24, he appears to have spent a night at the hotel. His schedule doesn't list any events in Albany that evening. His staff picked him up at the hotel the next day at 9 a.m.
When the Legislature returned for a special session in mid-December, he again stayed at 74 State. His schedule lists meetings at the Capitol up until 5 p.m. He was scheduled to head for the city at 9:30 a.m. the next day.
In some instances, the governor's schedule matches his claims. It appears that Mr. Paterson stayed at 74 State on the evening of March 19. The next day, his schedule lists a 9 a.m. budget meeting with the governor. In May, he stayed at the Crowne Plaza hotel the night before an 8:30 a.m. legislative breakfast.
A spokesman for Mr. Paterson said Mr. Paterson had meetings with the governor and his staff that were not listed on the official schedule.