Gov. Paterson

*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 free World Series tickets he sought and obtained from the New York Yankees, despite a state gift ban.

Group members said they want to meet with the governor to discuss his ability to continue to govern.

There was a “spirited discussion,” said Sharpton, flanked by former Mayor David Dinkins and Hazel Dukes, former president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

“Some dissented. The overwhelming majority said they were supportive of the governor,” Sharpton said.

Outside the restaurant, Sharpton was asked explicitly if he supported the governor.

“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.

Dinkins said Paterson absolutely should remain in office.

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