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.

Other reax:

  • 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:

Elliot Spitzer Resigns in Prostitution Ring Scandal New York Governor Eliot Spitzer addresses the media with his wife Silda Wall Spitzer at his office in New York, March 10, 2008. Spitzer apologized to his family for a 'private matter' on Monday but made no reference to a New York Times report that he may have been linked to a prostitution ring. 'I failed to live up to the standards I set up to myself. Now I stand to regain the trust of my family,' Spitzer told a packed room of reporters in New York City. He said nothing about possibly resigning.REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (UNITED STATES) 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.

UPDATE: Eliot Spitzer Resigns. Finally. For Real This Time.

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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. Triumph says:

    The interesting angle, really, is the
    hypocrisy bit:

    It is also interesting that he’s a Democrat. Over the past 5 years, it seems like the Republicans have a corner on the sex scandal market.

    I guess given the fact that Spritzer is a Clinton superdelegate, he learned his sexual perversions from the best in the business.

  2. Anderson says:

    David Vitter didn’t resign; it’s tough to see at a glance why Spitzer should.

    Also, tho I try to avoid conspiracy theories, I find it … coincidental that the feds just happened to be busting the call-girl ring that serviced the Scourge of Wall Street.

    (And I’m certainly glad that the NSA would never, never abuse its data-mining authority to help steer the feds on this.)

  3. Michael says:

    the fact that Spritzer is a Clinton superdelegate,

    One wonders if Spritzer will still be seated at the convention.

  4. Anon says:

    David Vitter didn’t resign; it’s tough to see at a glance why Spitzer should.

    Well, regardless of one’s views on prostitution, the fact that he was AG I think changes things.

  5. Jay says:

    I am downright gleeful. Spitzer is an evil man and has earned this and more.

  6. mike says:

    what’s the name of the US House Rep who paid for the male prostitute with a check? Isn’t he from NY? Hasn’t he been reelected 10 times or so?

    And I thought I was having a bad day today…

  7. michael gasper says:

    i posted earlier in ur defence, but really u suck. u should b ashamed.

  8. Dave Schuler says:

    Does this mean he won’t be running for president in a few years?

  9. Bandit says:

    Why couldn’t he have just dated McGreevey – a lot in common and all that –

  10. DFAL says:

    This is beautiful! A future star of the DFL destroys his own career and slinks out of office in disgrace! LOL! I love it!

    Hopefully, his wife will divorce him and his children will refuse to speak to him, leaving his entire life a wreck. LOL!

  11. yetanotherjohn says:

    I guess this is one name we can cross of the VP list. While he is innocent until proved guilty, he is in the best position to judge the likelihood of being proved guilty (i.e. did he do it). Given that some of the evidence being reported against him justifies a federal felony indictment, it might be just a tad difficult to conduct state business from the big house.

    Part of the irony here is that he got the governor gig at least partly from the publicity of his prosecuting a couple of high profile prostitution ring cases.

  12. jabberwock says:

    I don’t know if Spitzer will do the honorable thing and resign, even though his “offense” seems picayune compared to the rape of the Constitution perpetrated by Shrub.
    We all know that Shrub knows no honor, and will just “keep on keepin’ on” until he is replaced by either his alter ego Billary, Obama, or McCain.

  13. jpe says:

    He’ll resign, as well he should. I really like Spitz, but some crimes are eminently resign-able.

    Anderson: per TPM, apparently Spitz was structuring his transactions, which piqued the interest of the feds (who reasonably were thinking bribery was afoot). That, in turn, led to the investigation. He was structuring his transactions to avoid SARs (Suspicious Activity Reports, the standard form those of us that were line tellers learned to hate), but because he was hiding the prozzy habit.

  14. DL says:

    I repeat:liberal hypocrisy is a badge of honor.
    With liberals, truth is relative = morality is relative = hypocrisy!

  15. DL says:

    What’s the biig deal? he could resign and still run for mayor in Brattleboro Vermont. Hell, if he does it quickly that town will fight extradition to the USA.

  16. Triumph says:

    UPDATE: A well placed source tells me that Spitzer will announce his resignation at 7 Eastern this evening.

    You might want to check the placement of that source…Spitz hasn’t thrown in the towel yet….

  17. anjin-san says:

    Spitzer has not, as yet, resigned. Are you working for Fox now?

  18. Jim H says:

    Politics and sex go hand in hand, no doubt about that. I saw a link in google to an escorts resort offering sex vacations in the Caribbean, and I know certain people in top level have already done that.
    I guess that when this is done overseas there`s no way to pin anyone down as it was done to Eliot here.

    The emperor is just a local outfit of thousands, this one offers the same and one emperor girl can be seen working there: http://www.charlisangels.com

    We have to be sympathetic to the Spitzer family, those three girls will feel the sting, years to come.