NEW YORK -- Gov. David Paterson, who took over the state's top job Monday after Eliot Spitzer resigned amid a prostitution scandal, has admitted he and his wife Michelle had affairs during a rough patch in their marriage several years ago, a newspaper reported.
Paterson told the Daily News that he maintained a relationship with another woman from 1999 until 2001. He and his wife eventually sought counseling and repaired their relationship.
New York Gov. David Paterson, right, is sworn in by Chief Judge Judith Kaye, left, while his wife Michelle Paige looks on, in the Assembly Chamber at the state Capitol in Albany, N.Y., Monday, March 17, 2008. [Agencies]
The couple agreed to speak publicly about their marriage in response to rumors about Paterson's personal life that have been swirling in Albany since Spitzer resigned, the Daily News reported Monday on its Web site.
Paterson rose from the lieutenant governor's office after Spitzer resigned last week amid allegations that he hired a call girl from a high-priced escort service. It was a dramatic fall for Spitzer, who was elected with an overwhelming share of the vote and who had vowed to root out corruption at the state Capitol.
Federal prosecutors must still decide whether to pursue charges against Spitzer. The married father of three teenage girls was accused of spending tens of thousands of dollars on prostitutes -- including one in Washington the night before Valentine's Day.
After his inauguration Monday, Paterson and his wife, Michelle, acknowledged the relationships but did not go into details.
"This was a marriage that appeared to be going sour at one point," Paterson told the Daily News. "But I went to counseling and we decided we wanted to make it work. Michelle is well aware of what went on."
Paterson said top government officials are bound to be under the microscope for their personal actions, especially considering the prostitution scandal.
"Like most marriages, you go through certain difficult periods," Michelle Paterson said. "What's important is for your kids to see you worked them out."
The Patersons have two children, a 19-year-old student at Ithaca College who is from his wife's previous marriage, and 14-year-old who attends public school in New York City.
Paterson has been hailed as a politician of integrity and a man who can build consensus in Albany after a tumultuous year under Spitzer.