/ Communications in an Era of Political Scandals: The Patterson-Kauffmann question.

If you’ve been following the case of Governor Patterson (and what New York State denizen hasn’t?), you would have heard that his Communications Director resigned yesterday following the development of the two Governor scandals that were unveiled to the public.

Peter Kauffmann stepped down yesterday, citing “integrity and commitment to public services” as values he takes “seriously.”

Patterson has been charged with illegally obtaining World Series tickets from the Yankees (a felony that could cost him over $90,000 in fines and some jail time because he lied about the fact under oath), and also for interfering with a domestic abuse case involving top aide, David Johnson.

Governor Patterson

Governor Patterson

Of course, from a communications perspective, such an issue is everyone’s worst fear. How does Patterson proceed from here, and should the Director of Communications (who is supposed to be his right arm during crises) have resigned?

In every situation involving clients and the public, integrity and honesty have to be placed on a pedestal. It doesn’t matter what the situation is: the clean and most honorable thing would be to tell the truth because the public can see through veiled statements, no matter how much legal jargon and opinion can twist the facts.

In such a circumstance, it is important for personnel like Kauffmann to maintain their integrity as well. If the client (in this case, Patterson) and Kauffmann cannot see eye-to-eye and convey a sense of truth to the public, then indeed, one of them must bid the situation adieu.

Patterson’s case reminds me of several political scandals including those of Spitzer and Clinton: two situations where their lawyers desperately sought to twist and angle the truth. But if the truth is this palpable and strong, the most honorable and perfectly clean way to communicate it to the public would be to admit the wrongdoing.

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