You’ll recall last March that the New York Commission on Public Integrity charged New York’s governor, David Paterson, with violating state ethics laws when he got free tickets to the opening game of the 2009 World Series from the Yankees. The case has run its course now, and yep, the governor has been found guilty. He was fined $62,125 for soliciting, accepting and receiving five complimentary tickets to Game One of the 2009 World Series for himself, two aides, his son and his son’s friend. Shocking that there is corruption in Albany. Truly, truly shocking.
I’ve mentioned this before, but one of my areas of expertise back in my shyster days was public ethics law. I represented a whole bunch of public officials who got into hot water over free tickets, golf outings, hotel stays, meals and all manner of other perks, bribes and assorted nastiness. I represented even more private businesses and individuals who wanted to do business with public officials and offered said tickets, golf outings, hotel stays, meals and all manner of other perks. It was easily the most fun I had as a lawyer (and this was my favorite case). When one of these guys tells you “really, I planned to pay for it the whole time!” they truly believe they’re the first ones to have come up with it. It’s adorable really.
Here’s my question with this case: were the Yankees charged? Because in all my old cases both the public official who took the gifts and the business or lobbyist or whoever offered the gift were charged. We called it the “one steak, two charges” rule. As in, both the provider and the consumer of said porterhouse was on the hook for the free meal. It was only when the public official was truly exerting pressure on someone for bribes or gifts that the provider was not in hot water too.
That could have been the case for the Yankees, but if Patterson was truly twisting the Yankees’ arm over some other bit of government business, you’d think he would be charged with something greater than merely accepting gifts. It’s also possible that the Yankees were let off the hook in exchange for their help in investigating Patterson (and it’s stated in the article that someone from the Yankees testified, though that could have been compelled testimony). I am surprised, however, that even at the time of the charges last spring we didn’t hear any more about the Yankees being in trouble.