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The Spitzer Affair
Topic: The Spitzer Affair (Read 1794 times)
The Spitzer Affair
March 11, 2008, 08:44:06 AM »
I hope Spitzer goes down hard, not because I believe in the criminalization of the behavior in question, but because , , , well, read this from the WSJ:
Spitzer's Rise and Fall
March 11, 2008; Page A20
One might call it Shakespearian if there were a shred of nobleness in the story of Eliot Spitzer's fall. There is none. Governor Spitzer, who made his career by specializing in not just the prosecution, but the ruin, of other men, is himself almost certainly ruined.
Mr. Spitzer's brief statement yesterday about a "private matter" surely involves what are widely reported to be his activities with an expensive prostitution ring discovered by the U.S. Attorney's office for the Southern District of New York. Those who believe Eliot Spitzer is getting his just deserts may be entitled to that view, but it misses the greater lesson for our politics.
Mr. Spitzer coasted into the Governorship on the wings of a reputation as a "tough" public prosecutor. Mr. Spitzer, though, was no emperor. He had not merely arrogated to himself the powers he held and used with such aggression. He was elected.
In our system, citizens agree to invest one of their own with the power of public prosecution. We call this a public trust. The ability to bring the full weight of state power against private individuals or entities has been recognized since the Magna Carta as a power with limits. At nearly every turn, Eliot Spitzer has refused to admit that he was subject to those limits.
The stupendously deluded belief that the sitting Governor of New York could purchase the services of prostitutes was merely the last act of a man unable to admit either the existence of, or need for, limits. At the least, he put himself at risk of blackmail, and in turn the possible distortion of his public duties. Mr. Spitzer's recklessness with the state's highest elected office, though, is of a piece with his consistent excesses as Attorney General from 1999 to 2006.
He routinely used the extraordinary threat of indicting entire firms, a financial death sentence, to force the dismissal of executives, such as AIG's Maurice "Hank" Greenberg. He routinely leaked to the press emails obtained with subpoena power to build public animosity against companies and executives. In the case of Mr. Greenberg, he went on national television to accuse the AIG founder of "illegal" behavior. Within the confines of the law itself, though, he never indicted Mr. Greenberg. Nor did he apologize.
THE SPITZER FILES
Read a selection of Journal editorials and op-eds about New York's Governor, including coverage of Mr. Spitzer's tenure as the state's chief law enforcement officerIn perhaps the incident most suggestive of Mr. Spitzer's lack of self-restraint, the then-Attorney General personally threatened John Whitehead after the former Goldman Sachs chief published an article on this page defending Mr. Greenberg. "I will be coming after you," Mr. Spitzer said, according to Mr. Whitehead's account. "You will pay the price. This is only the beginning, and you will pay dearly for what you have done."
Jack Welch, the former head of GE, said he was told to tell Ken Langone -- embroiled in Mr. Spitzer's investigation of former NYSE chairman Dick Grasso -- that the AG would "put a spike through Langone's heart." New York Congresswoman Sue Kelly, who clashed with Mr. Spitzer in 2003, had her office put out a statement that "the attorney general acted like a thug."
These are not merely acts of routine political rough-and-tumble. They were threats -- some rhetorical, some acted upon -- by one man with virtually unchecked legal powers.
Eliot Spitzer's self-destructive inability to recognize any limit on his compulsions was never more evident than his staff's enlistment of the New York State Police in a campaign to discredit the state's Senate Majority Leader, Joseph Bruno. On any level, it was nuts. Somehow, Team Spitzer thought they could get by with it. In the wake of that abusive fiasco, his public approval rating plunged.
Mr. Spitzer's dramatic fall yesterday began in the early afternoon with a posting on the Web site of the New York Times about the alleged link to prostitutes. The details in the criminal complaint about "Client-9," who is reported to be Mr. Spitzer, will now be played for titters by the press corps. But one may ask: Where were the media before this? With a few exceptions, the media were happy to prosper from his leaks and even applaud, rather than temper, the manifestly abusive instincts of a public official.
There really is nothing very satisfying about the rough justice being meted out to Eliot Spitzer. He came to embody a system that revels in the entertainment value of roguish figures who rise to power by destroying the careers of others, many of them innocent. Better still, when the targets are as presumably unsympathetic as Wall Street bankers and brokers.
Acts of crime deserve prosecution by the state. The people, in turn, deserve prosecutors and officials who understand the difference between the needs of the public good and the needs of unrestrained personalities who are given the honor of high office.
The crats defend theirs in office while cans expect them to resign
Reply #1 on:
March 11, 2008, 11:16:09 AM »
Just more proof the crats have no shame whatsoever. I for one am sick of this crap.
How in the world can anyone claim he should stay as governor is just testiment to the damage these guys are having on our country?
We already hear the talking Democratic heads on the circuit vigorously defending his "right" to stay in office.
Dershowitz has the nerve to claim that it is a "stupid" law therefore he should definitely not resign. I don't recall seeing him vigorously defend any Republican in the same boat.
James Carville is also proclaiming it's just sex so what.
The nags are of course as silent as ever when talk is of a Democrat.
Spitzer's wife also stands by her man. Why do these wives make idiots of themselves and stand next to their guy while he makes his BS speech?
Re: The Spitzer Affair
Reply #2 on:
March 11, 2008, 09:02:27 PM »
Amid Charges of Spitzer Tryst, Embattled Prostitute "Kristen" Expected to Resign
New York - At a hastily scheduled morning press conference at the headquarters of New York's exclusive Emperors Club prostitution ring, high priced call girl "Kristen" announced that she would temporarily step aside in the wake of charges that she had engaged in sex with New York Governor Eliot Spitzer.
"I made a serious mistake and betrayed the trust of my co-workers, my many clients, and my pimps," she said in a quiet voice cracking with emotion. "I will be taking a leave of absence to earn their forgiveness, and redeem myself in the eyes of the entire expensive whore community."
The embattled prostitute did not mention Spitzer by name, and stopped short of offering an official resignation. But longtime sex industry insiders say that it will be difficult for Kristen to return to her post in light of mounting federal wiretap evidence that she had sexually serviced the Governor on at least two occasions.
"It will be hard for her to spin her way out of this," said Destinee Rizzo, editor of the trade journal Executive Concubine."After taking on clients like that, her days as a five diamond, high-roller suite call girl are over. Frankly, with all the press coverage she'll be lucky to get a job as a $5 truck stop lot lizard in Kentucky."
"The big problem now is to keep this incident from threatening the whole expensive whore industry," added Rizzo.
The revelation brought an immediate and angry reaction from Greymont Preston IV, spokesman for the powerful consumer watchdog group Profligate Wastrels United. "For that kind of money, there's an expectation that these girls have been with Snoop Dogg or Charlie Sheen," said Preston. "But please -- Eliot Spitzer? When our members are spending five thousand dollars to snort cocaine off an ass, they want to know that ass has some standards."
Preston said his organization would push for new industry guidelines, including a "black box" john tracking system, but stopped short of calling for government regulation.
"Unfortunately, that would involve meeting with members of Congress, and many of our member don't want to risk having the photos become public," said Preston.
Lafester "Sly" Williams, president of the Big Dollar Pimp Association, said his group would comply with greater oversight and control systems.
"We want to assure the expensive whore buying public -- whether they are drug dealers, washed out big league ball players, or compulsive gamblers on a temporary hot streak -- that when they purchase one of our products, that fine bitch will now be DNA tested and certified 100% free of contaminants from politicians or journalists," said Williams.
Despite the new assurances, Rizzo says it may take years for the whore industry's luxury segment to recover from the incident.
"The saddest thing is what it done to the youngsters, those starry-eyed 17 and 18 year old boys out there who dream someday of blowing thirty or forty thousand dollars on a hotel room full of beautiful, high end hookers," said Rizzo. "Sure, only a few ever achieve it, but that boyhood dream has always been universal. After the Spitzer incident, thought, I'm just not sure whether that's true anymore."
As to underscore that concern, as Kristen walked toward the exit of the press conference to her waiting 1973 Lincoln Continental Mark IV, she was approached by a teenage boy, a forlorn questioning in his eyes.
"Say it ain't so, Kristen," he begged. "Say it ain't so!"
great humor and satire
Reply #3 on:
March 12, 2008, 09:47:24 AM »
We see it with Geraldine Ferarro too. Saying Obama would not be where he is today if he were not black. Instead of lauding him and being happy a black can get support from many non blacks and be a real contender she comes out with this. I don't think he is where he is because he is black but even so - these are the same liberals who fought for affirmative action for decades!
I don't know how any black person in this country could vote for the Clintons.
They are the most despicable characters on the national political stage in my lifetime.
Re: The Spitzer Affair
Reply #4 on:
March 12, 2008, 10:47:18 AM »
It just goes to prove as i've said many times before, there is no one more sexist, racist or elitist than a leftist.
Re: The Spitzer Affair
Reply #5 on:
March 12, 2008, 11:27:57 AM »
Eliot the 'Enforcer'
By JOHN FUND
March 12, 2008; Page A21
As the political career of Eliot Spitzer melts down, many will lament that what the governor on Monday called his "progressive politics" fell victim to his personal foibles. If only he hadn't made mistakes in his private life, they will moan, New York could have been redeemed from its squalid, special-interest dominated stagnation.
That's nonsense. More is at issue here than a mere private mistake. The governor's frequent use of a prostitution ring was of public concern -- because, notes Henry Stern, head of the watchdog group New York Civic, "people could easily have blackmailed him, you can't have that if you're governor."
True enough, New York's dysfunctional and secretive state government desperately needs fumigation, with both political parties sharing in the blame. But Mr. Spitzer's head-butting approach to redemption -- involving the arbitrary use of power and bully-boy tactics -- was no improvement. As for reform, his first budget grew state spending at three times the rate of inflation, and is a major reason the state now faces a $4.5 billion deficit. When the governor tried to reform the state's bloated Medicaid program, the health-care workers' union ran a TV campaign against him, and he quickly caved.
Mr. Spitzer seemed to excel only in the zeal with which he would go after perceived adversaries. Last summer, his staff infamously used the state police to track the movements of Joe Bruno, the Republican president of the state senate, in an effort to destroy his career. Mr. Spitzer then ferociously fought investigators who wanted to examine his office's email traffic for evidence the governor himself may have been involved. His approval rating in New York, a strongly Democratic state, fell to 27%.
Despite that wakeup call, months after the Bruno incident Mr. Spitzer called up a close ally of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. This source told me that the governor asked him to deliver what the ally considered a threatening and insulting message to the mayor. The Bloomberg confidant, who like many sources commenting on Mr. Spitzer refused to be named, advised the governor to reconsider if that was the message he really wanted to send, but the governor insisted.
No doubt more examples of Mr. Spitzer's dubious behavior will now find their way into the media. But his career as a prosecutor provided plenty of warning signs he was destined for trouble, and each of his political campaigns featured clear attempts to circumvent campaign-finance laws. For example, in 1998 Mr. Spitzer admitted to the New York Times that he had skirted state election laws by failing to disclose a last-minute infusion of cash into his 1994 campaign for attorney general from his wealthy father.
Such chicanery wasn't an auspicious launching pad for his own investigations of corporate misbehavior. He certainly did expose some malfeasance and shady dealing. But historian Fred Siegel notes that he quickly moved on to "less and less substantial" and appropriate targets in search of headlines. And he used New York's Martin Act, a uniquely harsh law allowing prosecutors to declare almost anything a "fraud," and no requirement on their part to prove criminal intent, to trample the due-process rights of anyone blocking his path to the TV cameras.
Companies almost always agreed to Mr. Spitzer's demands that they pay stiff fines and change the way they operated -- all without any trials or judicial determinations that they had done anything wrong. "It became a kind of blackmail," Mr. Siegel says, "in which he said to companies, if you don't put my friends in high positions in your company I'll drag you through the mud."
"He was the investigator, the prosecutor, the judge, the jury and the executioner," says Thomas Donahue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He notes that Mr. Spitzer would frequently settle with corporate higher-ups, who were wealthy enough to pay millions in fines, and then go after their lower-level employees. Those individuals were often found not guilty at trial -- but these courtroom defeats, as Mr. Spitzer learned from the experience of that other hyperactive prosecutor, Rudy Giuliani, would generate few headlines.
Mr. Spitzer cloaked his naked devaluation of the rule of law with gauzy rhetoric that was perfectly pitched to make many liberals ignore his strong-arm tactics. He harshly criticized advocates of judicial restraint such as Antonin Scalia as believing in "a dead piece of paper." In a Law Day ceremony, Mr. Spitzer was blunt: "I believe in an evolving Constitution. . . . A flexible Constitution allows us to consider not merely how the world was, but how it ought to be."
He was vague as to just what his Brave New World would look like. "One of the things that I enjoy about going to Washington is the opportunity of testifying, chapter after chapter, that self-regulation has failed," he said to reporters, adding, "What is it to be replaced with? I'm not sure."
Still, he was pretty sure of his blowtorch tactics. In 2005, Mr. Spitzer revealingly told TV host Stephen Colbert in all seriousness that as a kid he was the "enforcer" on his soccer team, the guy who "took people out."
An enduring lesson of the Spitzer meltdown should be that crusaders of all types who operate outside the rule books themselves merit a gimlet eye of scrutiny. An enduringly popular symbol in our culture is the man on the white horse who comes to clean up the town and purge it of its errant ways. But in the harsh reality of politics, for every selfless Lone Ranger who arrives on his trusty steed and does good, there are many more budding Napoleons who harshly impose their will -- and fall prey to vices they pledged to root out.
Mr. Fund is a columnist for WSJ.com.
one last word on ferraro
Reply #6 on:
March 12, 2008, 11:33:45 PM »
She states Obama would not be where he is if he were not *black*.
Well she would never have been chosen as a vice-presidential candidate if she were not a *woman*.
It certainly wasn't for her political skills, name power, or accomplishments that she was chosen.
Talk about chuzpuh!
Just another nag.
Dershowitz on The Spitzer Affair
Reply #7 on:
March 13, 2008, 11:59:08 AM »
The Entrapment of Eliot
By ALAN M. DERSHOWITZ
March 13, 2008
The federal criminal investigation that has led to Eliot Spitzer's resignation as governor of New York illustrates the great dangers all Americans face from vague and open-ended sex and money-transaction statutes.
Federal law, if read broadly, criminalizes virtually all sexual encounters for which something of value has been given. Federal money-laundering statutes criminalize many entirely legitimate and conventional banking transactions. Congress enacted these laws to give federal prosecutors wide discretion in deciding which "bad guys" to go after.
Generally, wise and intelligent prosecutors use their discretion properly -- to target organized crime, terrorism, financial predation, exploitation of children and the like. But the very existence of these selectively enforced statutes poses grave dangers of abuse. They lie around like loaded guns waiting to be used against the enemies of politically motivated investigators, prosecutors and politicians.
There is no hard evidence that Eliot Spitzer was targeted for investigation, but the story of how he was caught does not ring entirely true to many experienced former prosecutors and current criminal lawyers. The New York Times reported that the revelations began with a routine tax inquiry by revenue agents "conducting a routine examination of suspicious financial transactions reported to them by banks." This investigation allegedly found "several unusual movements of cash involving the Governor of New York." But the movement of the amounts of cash required to pay prostitutes, even high-priced prostitutes over a long period of time, does not commonly generate a full-scale investigation.
We are talking about thousands, not millions, of dollars. We are also talking about a man who is a multimillionaire with numerous investments and purchases. The idea that federal investigators would focus on a few transactions to corporations -- that were not themselves under investigation -- raises as many questions as answers.
Even if Mr. Spitzer's derelictions were serendipitously discovered as a result of routine, computerized examination of bank transactions, the dangers inherent in selective use of overbroad criminal statutes remain. Money laundering, structuring and related financial crimes are designed to ferret out organized crime, drug dealing, terrorism and large-scale financial manipulation. They were not enacted to give the federal government the power to inquire into the sexual or financial activities of men who move money in order to hide payments to prostitutes.
Once federal authorities concluded that the "suspicious financial transactions" attributed to Mr. Spitzer did not fit into any of the paradigms for which the statutes were enacted, they should have closed the investigation. It's simply none of the federal government's business that a man may have been moving his own money around in order to keep his wife in the dark about his private sexual peccadilloes.
But the authorities didn't close the investigation. They expanded it, because they had caught a big fish in the wide net they had cast.
In this case, they wiretapped 5,000 phone conversations, intercepted 6,000 emails, used surveillance and undercover tactics that are more appropriate for trapping terrorists than entrapping johns. Unlike terrorism and other predatory crimes, prostitution is legal in many parts of the world and in some parts of the U.S. Even in places like New York, where it is technically illegal, johns are rarely prosecuted. Prostitution rings operate openly, advertising "massage" and "escort" services in the back pages of glossy magazines, local newspapers and television sex channels.
If the federal government really wanted to shut down these operations, they could easily do it without a single wiretap or email intercept. All they would have to do is get an undercover agent to answer the ads, arrange for the "escort" to go from New York to New Jersey and be arrested. But many in law enforcement would much rather reserve these statutes for selective use against predetermined targets.
In this case, if the serendipitous bank audit really led federal agents to Mr. Spitzer, and Mr. Spitzer led them to the Emperor's Club, and federal prosecutors really wanted to get the Club, they could easily have sent an undercover cop to pose as a john, instead of tapping phones and reading emails -- tactics designed to catch and embarrass Mr. Spitzer with his own recorded words, which could be, and were, leaked to the media. As this newspaper has reported: "It isn't clear why the FBI sought the wiretap warrant. Federal prostitution probes are exceedingly rare, lawyers say, except in cases involving organized-crime leaders or child abuse. Federal wiretaps are seldom used to make these cases . . ."
Lavrenti Beria, the head of Joseph Stalin's KGB, once quipped to his boss, "show me the man and I will find the crime." The Soviet Union was notorious for having accordion-like criminal laws that could be adjusted to fit almost any dissident target. The U.S. is a far cry from the Soviet Union, but our laws are dangerously overbroad.
Both Democrats and Republicans have targeted political adversaries over the years. The weapons of choice are almost always elastic criminal laws. And few laws are more elastic, and susceptible to abuse, than federal laws on money laundering and sex crimes. For the sake of all Americans, these laws should be narrowed and limited to predatory crimes with real victims.
Mr. Dershowitz teaches law at Harvard University and is the author of "Finding Jefferson" (Wiley, 2007).
Re: The Spitzer Affair
Reply #8 on:
March 16, 2008, 08:28:22 PM »
After the Spitzer Storm
By E.J. MCMAHON
March 15, 2008; Page A10
In the long and storied political history of New York State, few things were ever as inevitable as Eliot Spitzer's election to the governor's office. As state attorney general, he already loomed as governor-presumptive before the Republican incumbent, Gov. George Pataki, confirmed in the summer of 2005 that he would not seek a fourth term. By November 2006, Mr. Spitzer's landslide (69%) victory over an articulate but underfunded Republican opponent was a foregone conclusion.
There were warning signs about his dark side. But to many New Yorkers, prosecutorial nastiness seemed to be just what was needed to reform the decadent political culture of Albany -- a place seldom mentioned in print without the modifier "dysfunctional."
Indeed, given his record, the millions who cast their ballots for him had reason to expect that Hurricane Eliot would tear up, root and branch, all that was wrong in the capital. What they got instead was more like a parking lot whirlwind -- stirring up the trash and pushing around shopping carts, but leaving no fundamental change in its wake.
Within days of taking office, Mr. Spitzer seemed to be feuding with everyone in sight. Personality issues aside, his "reform" agenda was muddled at best. On fiscal issues, jaws dropped even in Democratic circles when the new governor listed "spending control" among the hallmarks of his first budget -- which ended up boosting spending by 7%. Mr. Spitzer pledged himself to a record multiyear increase in aid to the state's public schools, already the best-financed in the country. He proposed well over $2 billion in tax and fee hikes, while denying that he had called for anything other than "loophole-closers." His much-publicized fight over Medicaid "cuts" boiled down to a dispute over marginal changes. And he added thousands of positions to the state payroll.
New York's fiscal year begins unusually early, on April 1, so this year's budget negotiations with the state legislature were about to enter a crucial period when news of Client 9 broke on Monday afternoon. And now the Spitzer storm has blown out to sea.
He leaves behind a state whose troubles are best summarized by a single population statistic: Since 2000, more than a million New Yorkers have moved to other states, the biggest outmigration loss in the nation. The Empire State's net population has been propped up only by foreign immigrants, most of whom settle in New York City. Various economic indexes consistently rank New York's business and tax climate among the worst in the nation.
To a great degree, New York owes its sclerotic government and slow economic growth to its status as the nation's most heavily unionized state. Roughly half of those union members work in the public sector, and a growing number of the rest are employed in the heavily government-subsidized health-care industry. Organized labor's clout in Albany has never been stronger -- and in various ways, Mr. Spitzer was feeding it.
The power of the unions -- combined with well organized lobbying by hospitals and nursing homes -- also explains why New York continues to maintain the nation's most expensive Medicaid program, spending nearly twice the per-recipient average for all states.
The burden of the bloated public sector weighs most heavily on the upstate region. High taxes, plus high business costs for energy and small group insurance, make it difficult to revive communities beaten down by the decline of manufacturing employment. The Bush tax cuts helped New York City and its surrounding suburbs to recover strongly, if belatedly, from recession and terrorist attacks earlier in the decade. But Wall Street -- the heart of New York's economy and the state's revenue base -- is now reeling from the credit market crisis.
The responsibility for dealing with these problems now falls to Lt. Gov. David Paterson, who will be sworn in as governor in just days. Prior to joining Mr. Spitzer's ticket, during a 21-year career in the state Senate's Democratic minority, Mr. Paterson became best known for two things: He is legally blind, and he is the probably the wittiest, most agreeable politician in the state Capitol.
Mr. Paterson, who will be the state's first African-American governor, got his start as the protégé of a circle of older, Harlem-based politicians including his father, former state senator and secretary of state Basil Paterson; U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel; and David Dinkins, who was city clerk and Manhattan borough president before his disastrous single term as mayor.
During the 1990s, Mr. Paterson dutifully voted for Republican-sponsored state tax cuts because they were included in bipartisan budget deals. But as Senate minority leader in 2005 and 2006, he was the prime sponsor of a bill that would have increased New York City's top income tax rate by 22%, to fund a school class-size reduction initiative. He co-sponsored a proposed $2.7 billion state income tax increase to pay for even higher school spending, and a big personal tax exemption for public school teachers. Neither bill went anywhere -- but both may provide a telling glimpse into Mr. Paterson's thinking.
Then again, while Mr. Paterson has close ties to labor unions as well as Democratic Party warhorses like Rep. Rangel, he also has supported an expansion of charter schools, and has shown an affinity for a newer generation of change-oriented urban politicians like Newark, N.J.'s Mayor Corey Booker, to whose campaign he steered a $10,000 contribution in 2006.
Mr. Paterson takes office in difficult circumstances well liked, and with a large store of goodwill. After all the hope and hype surrounding Mr. Spitzer upon his arrival, expectations have descended from the stratosphere. At this point, New Yorkers would settle for competence.
Mr. McMahon is the director of the Manhattan Institute's Empire Center for New York State Policy.
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