Spitzer successor admits drug use

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The Independent US

Two weeks after the former governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer, was caught with his pants down in a high-class prostitution ring, his successor keeps voluntarily flashing his past indiscretions.

On the day he took office last week, David Paterson unburdened himself about his own marital infidelities, and he was at it again in a television interview on Monday, describing how he had dabbled with cocaine and marijuana some 30 years ago.

The candid strategy has been so successful that each revelation is having less and less impact on the new governor's reputation. In reference to cocaine, Mr Paterson, 53, told the NY1 cable news station that he "tried it a couple of times" when he was "about 22 or 23" and "marijuana probably when I was about 20".

He said: "I don't think I touched marijuana since the Seventies. More Americans have tried a lot more during that period of time and gone on to lead responsible lives and hopefully have lived their lives to their fullest."

Mr Paterson pointed out that he had made the confession much earlier, while lieutenant governor under Mr Spitzer, but the story had never been followed up.

The resurrection of the issue caused barely a ripple on the New York political scene, which has welcomed Mr Paterson as a longed-for change of style from his abrasive predecessor, whose rowing with opponents had worsened the political gridlock that Mr Spitzer had vowed to eliminate.

The New York Times buried the story on the second page of its Metro section of local news. More importantly, the right-wing New York Post also declined to take an aggressive stance on the subject. It light-heartedly labelled the governor "Doobie Dave" in its headline, and left matters at that. A week ago, flanked by his wife, Michelle, Mr Paterson had confessed to reporters that both had had affairs.

He was appointed governor after Mr Spitzer was forced to resign, having been named in a lawsuit as "client 9" of a high-class prostitute service.