Elliot Spitzer Resigns in Prostitution Ring Scandal
New York Governor Elliot Spitzer is “involved” in a prostitution ring. Details are still sketchy.
Gov. Eliot Spitzer has informed his most senior administration officials that he had been involved in a prostitution ring, an administration official said this morning. Mr. Spitzer, who was huddled with his top aides inside his Fifth Avenue apartment early this afternoon, had hours earlier abruptly canceled his scheduled public events for the day. He had scheduled an announcement for 2:15 this afternoon after inquiries from the Times. But his appearance was delayed by at least 45 minutes.
Mr. Spitzer, a first-term Democrat who pledged to bring ethics reform and end the often seamy ways of Albany, is married with three children.
Just last week, federal prosecutors arrested four people in connection with an expensive prostitution operation. Administration officials would not say that this was the ring with which the governor had become involved. But a person with knowledge of the governor’s role said that the person believes the governor is one of the men identified as clients in court papers.
The governor’s travel records show that he was in Washington in mid-February. One of the clients described in court papers arranged to meet with a prostitute who was part of the ring, the Emperors Club VIP on the night of Feb. 13. Mr. Spitzer appeared on a CNBC television show at 7 a.m. the next morning. Later in the morning, he testified before a Congressional committee.
Aside from a general sense that chief executive officers ought to obey the laws they’re charged with enforcing and that married men ought to be faithful to their wives, I really don’t care much about this story. The interesting angle, really, is the hypocrisy bit:
Spitzer has built his political legacy on rooting out corruption, including several headline-making battles with Wall Street while serving as attorney general. He stormed into the governor’s office in 2006 with a historic share of the vote, vowing to continue his no-nonsense approach to fixing one of the nation’s worst governments.
Time magazine had named him “Crusader of the Year” when he was attorney general and the tabloids proclaimed him “Eliot Ness.”
But his stint as governor has been marred by several problems, including an unpopular plan to grant driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants and a plot by his aides to smear Spitzer’s main Republican nemesis.
Spitzer had been expected to testify to the state Public Integrity Commission he had created to answer for his role in the scandal, in which his aides are accused of misusing state police to compile travel records to embarrass Senate Republican leader Joseph Bruno.
Having only cursory knowledge of the two scandals, the misuse of the powers of office to harass a political opponent strikes me as more problematic than patronizing prostitutes.
More commentary will follow if the story develops into something more interesting.
- Marc Ambinder notes “Spitzer is a Clinton superdelegate.”
- Flip Bidot entitles his post “From Troopergate To Shtupergate”
- Steve Benen: “[I]t’s hard to believe brilliant people in positions of responsibility could be this stupid and this self-destructive. And yet, here we are.”
- Jon Henke wonders if it isn’t time to change the laws.
- Sean Hackbarth: “The man who demagogued his way to the governor’s mansion on the backs of Wall Street firms ends up in deep doo-doo.”
- Will Bunch: “WNBC-TV says prosecutors have text messages from Spitzer(no link yet). On MSNBC, there’s also talk that this prostitution ring is linked to a probe of the Gambino crime family — still, just wow.”
- Bob Owens: “It remains to be seen what political impact this breaking development will have, but all snark aside, my thoughts and prayers go out to his daughters—I think they are teenagers—and his wife.”
UPDATE: Various reports have Spitzer resigning. Headline changed accordingly. Developing.
CNBC reports that, “If Eliot Spitzer resigns, he would be succeeded by Lt. Governor David A. Paterson, who would become New York’s first African American governor and the first who is legally blind.”
UPDATE: Fox’s report on Spitzer’s resignation, “Sources: Spitzer to Resign Following Reports of ‘Involvement’ With Prostitution Ring, Faces Indictment,” is the most cited. Thus far, however, no confirmation. His presser was oblique:
Gov. Eliot Spitzer, accused in news reports of being involved in a prostitution ring, apologized to his family and the public on Monday at a hastily called news conference. He did not elaborate on the story.
With his wife at his side, Spitzer told reporters that he “acted in a way that violates my obligations to my family.” “I have disappointed and failed to live up to the standard I expected of myself,” he said. “I must now dedicate some time to regain the trust of my family.”
The “private matter” bit is straight out of Bill Clinton’s playbook.
UPDATE: A well-placed source tells me that Spitzer will announce his resignation at 7 Eastern this evening.
UPDATE: As of 8 Tuesday morning, Spitzer has not made public any intention to resign.