Saturday, February 1, 2003

Patton lawyer says tape bolsters case

Conner tells reporter 'I'm having fun'

By Bruce Schreiner
The Associated Press

LOUISVILLE - Gov. Paul Patton's lawyer said Friday that a television interview featuring Tina Conner "totally destroys" the credibility of Patton's onetime mistress.

In the interview, Conner contradicts earlier statements about when her affair with Patton started and who was the pursuer.

The interview took place last November but first aired Thursday night on WHAS-TV, after Patton's attorney requested the tape.

Sheryl Snyder, Patton's lawyer, said he wants to use the taped interview to "nail down her story" when Conner gives a deposition for a trial on her lawsuit against Patton.

Snyder said the tape is "a great piece of evidence for us."

"It totally destroys her credibility," he said. "It is a graphic, if not profane, admission that she was the pursuer."

Conner has said her two-year affair with Patton began in 1997, and that the governor was the aggressor in the relationship.

Conner and her attorney claim her taped comments were made in jest.

Conner laughed during much of the interview with a WHAS-TV reporter, and is caught on tape saying, "I'm having fun with him."

Her lawyer, Fred Radolovich, said Friday that the interview shouldn't affect the outcome of what remains of her suit against Patton. "Obviously, to the governor's people this is a smoking gun," he said. "To me, it's not even a bullet."

Franklin County Circuit Judge Roger Crittenden has dismissed most of Conner's allegations that Patton improperly abused his office in helping and harming her business as a result of their affair.

The remaining allegation is that Patton's conduct was outrageous and intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon her.

Radolovich said the remaining claims deal with the conduct of Patton and state agencies under his control after the affair ended.

Conner claims her nursing home was hounded into bankruptcy by state regulators unleashed by Patton after she ended their affair.

"The tape shows that she was the aggressor, not him, and she's clearly not suffering from any emotional distress from having had the relationship with him," Snyder said.

The impromptu interview occurred in a parking lot across the street from Radolovich's law office in Louisville.

In it, Conner was asked why she received special Medicaid payments in 1996 for her nursing home. Conner looked around and laughed before responding. One word of her response was bleeped out when aired, but it was apparent that Conner said she got the money because she was having sex with Patton.

When the reporter noted the contradiction about when the affair started, Conner replied, "I was working on it." Then she laughed again.

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