I know it may sound redundant by now, but apparently some people still need to hear, yet again, why Gov. Spitzer must resign. On Monday, he was identified as "client #9" in a federal criminal prosecution of an international prostitution ring. The news has rocked NY State, and shocked the national "body politic." This is still a "breaking" story on Wednesday, because Spitzer still hasn't resigned, after giving a half-minute statement on Monday afternoon. While apologizing to his family, and the public, he also called it "a private matter," and promised to "report back" soon.
Since then, he has retained high-profile legal counsel, and been "incommunicado." The classic "circle the wagons" move, with "sources" leaking both that he will resign, or may try to stay. This blog has commented repeatedly on Spitzer, and his many previous scandals. The current delay is caused by his lawyers' negotiating an "exit strategy" with federal prosecutors, I suspect.
In an ironic twist, Spitzer may have brought the "heat" down onto the prostitution ring, and not vice-versa, as some suggest. Gov. Spitzer was no mere "client" caught in a prostitution bust (something that too many people sympathize with). According to the NY Post:
"the IRS began probing a commercial bank account with suspicious transactions, and turned their findings over to the FBI's public integrity unit, sources told The Post
The feds soon realized the account was in effect a private slush fund operated by Spitzer. He wired multiple payments of thousands at a time to shell companies controlled by Emperors Club, sources said."
So the feds were investigating Spitzer's "slush fund," which alerted them to the prostitution ring. Even as Governor, he's been helping do his old job (Att'y Gen.), in a perverse way. Seriously, though, that's reason one among many that Spitzer has to go.
Some will see this as a "right-wing" attack against a Democratic governor. Some will cite the exclusive use of my hometown paper, The NY Post, as a news and opinion source, as proof of that bias. I will refute that with my own words, from LEAVWORLD: GRAFFITI POLITTI. This excerpt is from Feb. 14th, '07:
I'm not switching back to being a Democrat, but I'll support Gov. Spitzer against the Senate Republicans, as long as he's also going against the Assembly Democrats. The place is a rat's nest, but the fault is in the laws, and perhaps the state constitution. Spitzer must change the leadership in the Legislature before any reform will be passed by that body.
My worst fears are that Spitzer is just doing this so that he can have more control, which is not an unreasonable assumption, given Republicans' experience with Pataki. They all come in on a bright white horse, claiming to cut taxes, or clean up Albany, in Spitzer's case. It took Pataki two years to cave to the corrupt power structure of Albany (health care workers' and Teachers' unions, as well as a huge lawyers' lobby, among others).
Spitzer's fight with Silver and Bruno is just a precursor to the bigger battles he must wage, if he really intends to "change everything" in New York State. I like him so far, but will watch for signs of a Pataki-type cave-in to the "status quo" bureaucracy. I haven't been as excited about a Democrat since I was one, though. If he does the right thing, and makes a dent in the bureaucratic corruption, he will earn my support for re-election.
I gave him a fair shot at winning my support for his promised "reform" of Albany. Unfortunately, my worst fears were confirmed in July '07, when the "dirty tricks" scandal broke. He moved against Joe Bruno, the Senate Majority Leader, with a fumbled attempt to use the State Police to "document" his movements, to prove misuse of state aircraft for political purposes. Bruno was absolved of wrongdoing, and it blew up in Spitzer's face, and was still being investigated when this new scandal broke.
I knew he was in it for the power, and the power trip, after that. It reminds me of another, more prominent NY politician...but I digress. Gov. Spitzer has confirmed all of the worst fears that both friends and foes have had about him, over the years. In honor of his long career of mis- and malfeasance, I'll cite two excerpts from the Tuesday's NY Post. Frederic U. Dicker's INSIDE ALBANY column, and the Post's OP-ED piece from Tuesday, "NY's Naked Emperor." I have found their reporting, and commentary, to be much closer to the truth than most local, or national media outlets'. Please read both articles in full; they're worth it:
March 11, 2008 -- ALBANY - A disgraced Gov. Spitzer has been publicly and privately de scribed for more than a year by New York's top political figures as a ruth less, sanctimonious, amoral man whose righteous public persona was regularly contradicted by the realities of how he conducted his political life.
Talk about confirmation!
Whether it was Spitzer's involvement in the Dirty Tricks and Internal Revenue scandals that targeted Senate Republican Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, his threats against Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and other Assembly Democrats, his undermining through rumor and innuendo of Lt. Gov. David Paterson, or his seemingly paranoid hostilities to Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, Spitzer's style struck many as so far out of line with his public claims of righteousness that many started using the jargon of abnormal psychology to describe him.
So much for cleaning up Albany.
Yes, Spitzer has been convicted of nothing. But the level of specificity in the complaint is such that, as a practical matter, he can't possibly remain in office.
And that would be so even if he weren't carrying so much extra baggage.
* The Dirty Tricks scandal, which saw top Spitzer aides sending the State Police to spy on Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno. Spitzer's precise complicity in the abuse of power remains unknown.
* His uncontrollable temper, best exemplified by his now-famous "I'm a [expletive] steamroller, and I will destroy you" tirade to Assembly Minority Leader Jim Tedisco, not long before reportedly referring to Bruno, in the wake of the Dirty Tricks scandal, as "an old, senile piece of sh--."
* His overt hypocrisy, like the encouragement of political donors looking to subvert the strict gift limits he so publicly set for himself.
"CLIENT NINE" MUST RESIGN. "Circling the wagons" only delays the inevitable. Just ask Alan Hevesi. Oh, yeah, I almost forgot: Senate Republicans are promising impeachment proceedings on Thursday. I guess I have to start doing "Spitzer Updates" again.