Eliot Spitzer Resigns. Finally. For Real This Time

New York Governor Eliot Spitzer has finally resigned.

Eliot Spitzer Resigns.  Finally.  For Real This Time

New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer is resigning following intense pressure to step down because of a prostitution scandal. Spitzer says his resignation is effective Monday.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

Gov. Eliot Spitzer has decided to resign, completing a stunning fall from power after he was nationally disgraced by links to a high-priced prostitution ring, a top state official said Wednesday. Spitzer was scheduled to announce his resignation midday, according to a second top Spitzer staffer. The officials spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the announcement had not yet been made.

The New York Times adds,

Gov. Eliot Spitzer, reeling from revelations that he had been a client of a prostitution ring, announced his resignation today at his headquarters in Manhattan.

Mr. Spitzer’s resignation is to be effective Monday, and Lt. Gov. David A. Paterson is to be sworn in to replace him.

In the two days since news of Mr. Spitzer’s involvement in the prostitution ring surfaced, he has been engaged in an intense legal and family debate about whether to resign or, as aides said his wife was urging, to stay on. Mr. Spitzer, who had been holed up at his apartment at Fifth Avenue and 79th Street in Manhattan since issuing an apology on Tuesday, emerged at about 11:15 a.m. Wednesday with his wife by his side and got into a black S.U.V., which headed for his headquarters on Third Avenue as news helicopters followed above.

On Tuesday, as Mr. Spitzer, a first-term Democrat, contemplated his next move, the New York political world remained in a suspended state, with cries — even from fellow Democrats — growing louder for him to step down.

In one of the last and desperate rounds of the end game, a top Spitzer administration official reached out to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s staff on Tuesday to see if the governor could avoid an impeachment vote. But the prospects were grim.

Republicans have pledged to try to have Mr. Spitzer impeached and only 34 of the more than 100 Democrats in the Assembly would be needed for the matter to be referred to the Senate for an impeachment trial. It was clear during the discussions that 34 or more Democrats were almost certain to vote against the governor. That outcome would have been a dire for the governor, because his top political rival, Senate majority leader Joseph L. Bruno, leads the Senate, where a trial would have been held. “An impeachment proceeding would force Democrats to either abandon him or defend him,” said one leading Democrat. “They would abandon him.”

It’s telling that his wife was pushing for him to hold on despite misconduct that harmed her much more than the public. AP has two different stories on that topic.

NY first lady’s charmed life slips away

Silda Wall Spitzer appeared to have it all. The Harvard Law School graduate succeeded as a hard-charging corporate lawyer, then raised three daughters and supported the ambitions of her husband, Eliot, as he became New York’s attorney general and then governor. On Monday, she stood wordlessly by his side as he admitted to acting “in a way that violates my obligations to my family.”


Silda Spitzer, 50, grew up in Concord, N.C., where her father was a hospital administrator. She attended Meredith College, a women’s college in Raleigh, N.C., and went from there to Harvard Law School, where she met Spitzer, and to a career in mergers and acquisitions. While at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, a prestigious New York law firm, she billed as many as 3,300 hours a year — more than nine hours a day, including weekends.


“I felt very conflicted and emotional about leaving my job,” she told an interviewer from Vogue magazine last year. “It was not something I wanted to do, but I have never once doubted that it was the right decision for us. You don’t want to give up your dreams, but you also have to confront the reality of your life. Ultimately, it was more important for me to have my family work.”

Women ponder why Spitzer’s wife stood by

When Silda Wall Spitzer stood beside her husband in ashen-faced misery the other day as the governor made his brief apology in the prostitution scandal, she uttered not a word. Yet she launched a thousand conversations.

“Why is she standing there?” many women wondered. “Should she be? Would I be?” And for many, who’ve seen a long line of wronged political spouses do the same, from Hillary Rodham Clinton to Dina Matos McGreevey to Suzanne Craig, the immediate answer was a resounding, “Hell, no.” “I watched her and I thought, ‘Again, the wife is standing there,'” said Jessica Thorpe, a 38-year-old mother of three in Larchmont, N.Y. “And I had a visceral reaction. I just don’t get it. Why does it always have to be that way in politics? What will she get out of standing there?”


Yet many women also understood that Silda Spitzer was obviously in pain, and in the unforgiving glare of the public spotlight. So while Donna Webster, a product development executive in Boston, wished the New York governor had been forced to face the music alone, she also empathized with his wife’s choice, which she assumed was for the sake of her three daughters. “I’ve been thinking about this constantly. I cringed when I saw her next to him,” said Webster, 59. “I think he should have taken it like a man — without her.” But, she added, “She was in crisis mode. She was like a mother bear protecting her cubs. When crisis hits, you do what you think you need to for your family. Later, you can step back and think about protecting yourself.”

Amid the din, one of the most poignant voices defending Silda Spitzer was Matos McGreevey, who stood next to her husband, New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey, in 2004 as he told the world he was gay, claimed he had an affair with a male aide and resigned. “I’m reliving that moment and what it was like standing there next to Jim,” Matos McGreevey told The Associated Press Monday night. “I wanted to embrace her and say, `Be strong, you’ll survive this.'”

In another interview on CNN, she referred to others who’d also stood by their spouses at moments of deep humiliation — Clinton, during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and Suzanne Craig, the wife of Idaho Sen. Larry Craig, who was accused of soliciting sex in an airport bathroom. “We all do it for personal reasons,” said Matos McGreevey, now going through a contentious divorce with the former governor. “I did it because he was my husband. I had always supported him. I loved him. I had a daughter … I wanted her to know I was there for her father.”


Joanna Coles, editor in chief of the women’s magazine Marie Claire, feels that at least for the moment, Silda Spitzer had no choice but to stand publicly by her husband, for whom she gave up an active career as a corporate lawyer. “People are very quick to judge her, but that’s the deal that you make when one of you decides to give up your career so that the other can go all out for his,” said Coles. “I think it would have been odd if she wasn’t there. It’s the pact that they made. She chose to be the wife of a governor, and she’s done it very conscientiously, and very well.”

It’s a very surreal situation she finds herself in, through no fault of her own. This isn’t a Hillary Clinton situation, where she stood by a serial adulterer; so far as we know, Spitzer had been a model husband before this.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Paul says:

    But he’s wearing his flag pin, doesn’t that make up for it?

    It will be interesting to see if the new Gov can emerge as an inspiring figure.

  2. rodney dill says:

    Now if Kwame Kilpatrick can just get a clue.

  3. Triumph says:

    It will be interesting to see if the new Gov can emerge as an inspiring figure.

    Since Patterson is NOT wearing a flag pin, it is obvious that he will be an inspiring figure only to the terrorists and evildoers–just like B. Hussein Obama.

  4. Beldar says:

    [S]o far as we know, Spitzer had been a model husband before this.

    Well, yeah. Except for the multi-year history of whore-mongering, a regular Ward Cleaver.

  5. Richard Gardner says:

    I guess he couldn’t develop a drinking problem in a few days, go into rehab and come back out a reborn man (or is that only Hollywood and sports?).

    I wonder what he will do between now and Monday. Lots of pardons? And how far the investigations will go, such as to other clients of the expensive escort service. My opinion is that there is no public good to be gained in further prosecution, but attention seeking politicians and media realize that the tawdry sells and may force disproportionate actions by the State.

    I always thought Spitzer was a glory seeking populist. I see no need for someone else to grab up his (hypocritical) standard.

  6. Anderson says:

    I wonder what he will do between now and Monday. Lots of pardons?

    Maybe he can pardon everyone he helped put away for prostitution when he was AG.

  7. markm says:

    “Now if Kwame Kilpatrick can just get a clue.”

    Heh, I’m sorry…but the Kilpatrick debacle just doesn’t get enough national attention. You couldn’t write a believable soap opera and cover all that’s involved. It’s sad and priceless at the same time.