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Paterson Criticized for Senate Pick Secrecy

By Mark Scott

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wbfo/local-wbfo-815018.mp3

Albany, NY – Criticism is growing over the selection process for a new US Senator from New York.

Current Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has been nominated to become the next Secretary of State. While she was answering questions at her confirmation hearing in Washington Tuesday, there was controversy swirling in Albany over the way Governor David Paterson is handling the process for naming a successor. First, he decided not to name a successor until Clinton formally resigns following her confirmation. That has allowed for weeks of media speculation.

Then last week, he sent prospective candidates an in-depth questionnaire, asking them about their careers, finances and any potential scandals. But now that is creating controversy because Paterson is refusing to publically release the questionnaire.

Representatives of good government groups are outraged. Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group says Paterson's stance is indefensible. At the very least, Horner and others are calling for release of a blank questionnaire.

Adding fuel to the fire Tuesday was a bill introduced by the Assembly's Republican minority wants a special election to fill the expected vacancy in the U.S. Senate. Minority Leader James Tedisco says an election could cost as much as $20 million. But he argues that it's well worth the effort to avoid diminishing democracy.

Paterson has interviewed at least five candidates for the Senate position, including Caroline Kennedy. But according to a report in Newsday, the Governor has not talked with either of the two potential candidates from Western New York -- Congressman Brian Higgins and Mayor Byron Brown -- though both have received the questionnaire.

Click the audio player above to hear Mark Scott's story now or use your podcasting software to download it to your computer or iPod.