Paterson’s payday, for a ‘public relations problem’

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Paterson. (AP Photo/Tim Roske)
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ALBANY—Former Governor David Paterson was paid at least $386,000 in 2013 to consult for various interest groups, including $50,000 to help a Republican-linked firm handle a “public relations problem” for one of its clients, records show.

Paterson, the recently named chairman of the Democratic state committee, was paid between $50,000 and $75,000 from Mercury LLC, according to a 2013 financial disclosure form, filed with the state's ethics watchdog. The communications firm was founded by Pataki administration veterans, who along with Paterson were tight-lipped on the exact nature of Paterson's consulting.

“It's not a current engagement right now,” said Mike McKeon, the managing director of Mercury's New York office who has worked on Republican outreach for Andrew Cuomo. “I'm not going to discuss it. … It was a big help. That's about it.”

Paterson, who also serves on the board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said little more than that Mercury reached out to him.

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“If they're not revealing who their client is, I'm certainly not going to, but I can tell you that the client had absolutely nothing to do with the M.T.A. And absolutely nothing to do with government,” Paterson said. “It was a public relations problem their client had.”

The former governor's biggest payor was Touro College, where he taught classes and also offered community relations assistance as it developed facilities in Queens and Westchester County.

Paterson was also paid between $20,000 and $50,000 for the radio show he briefly co-hosted with Curtis Sliwa on AM 970. His other consulting clients include Exact Capital, which is developing the Victoria Theater on 125th Street; digital start-ups the Job Channel Network and Social Gaming Network; an LLC called Royal One Real Estate; Red Apple Management, which is controlled by Republican donor John Catsimatidis; and The Remi Group, a Charlotte-based company with a $57 million state contract to help maintenance services and two health benefits management companies.

Paterson will not be paid a salary for his service as Democratic chairman, party spokesman Peter Kauffmann said. Neither of his predecessors was paid.

Other parties do pay their chairmen, including the Conservative Party. Its longtime chairman, Mike Long, was paid between $100,000 and $150,000 in 2013. Independence Party chairman Frank MacKay was paid a combined salary between $125,000 and $175,000 from the party's Suffolk County and state committees. The Working Families Party and Republican Party did not pay their chairs.

Records for 2013 mirror a 2012 disclosure form that show Republican chairman Ed Cox drew the bulk of his income from investments, as well as a directorship in Noble Energy Corp., which paid him between $250,000 and $350,000 a year. Noble does not have active operations in New York, but could engage in natural gas hydrofracking if the process is approved. S.E.C. filings list opposition to hydrofracking as a potential threat to its interests, and it has filed a standard business certificate with the Department of State.

But Company spokespeople as well as Cox have said there are no plans to drill in the Empire State. Democrats, noting that support for fracking is a key plank in the G.O.P. platform, have said this is a conflict of interest.

Bob Master, the legal chair of the labor-backed Working Families Party, was paid between $100,000 and $150,000 as the political director for the Communications Workers of America District One.

CLARIFICATION: This post has been updated to more fully explain Noble Energy's posture toward drilling in New York.