Monday, March 10, 2008

BACKGROUND: NY Governor Eliot Spitzer Implicated In Prostitution Ring

“Hey Gov, You Wanna Give It a Go? Mmmmm-hmmmmm!”

The wife called me a little while ago, breathlessly asking me, “Hey! You hear about 'my boy' Spitzer?” Being absurdly busy, I hadn't. So, I checked in on the news online....and ohhhhhhhhhh my! ugly.

ALBANY - Gov. Eliot Spitzer has been caught on a federal wiretap arranging to meet with a high-priced prostitute at a Washington hotel last month, according to a person briefed on the federal investigation.

An affidavit in the federal investigation into a prostitution ring said that a wiretap recording captured a man identified as Client 9 on a telephone call confirming plans to have a woman travel from New York to Washington, where he had reserved a hotel room. The person briefed on the case identified Mr. Spitzer as Client 9.

Mr. Spitzer today made a brief public appearance during which he apologized for his behavior, and described it as a “private matter.”

“I have acted in a way that violates my obligation to my family and violates my or any sense of right or wrong,” said Mr. Spitzer, who appeared with his wife Silda at his Manhattan office. “I apologize first and most importantly to my family. I apologize to the public to whom I promised better.”

“I have disappointed and failed to live up to the standard I expected of myself. I must now dedicate some time to regain the trust of my family.”

Before speaking, Mr. Spitzer stood with his arm around his wife; the two nodded and then strode forward together to face more than 100 reporters. Both had glassy, tear-filled eyes, but they did not cry.

The governor spoke for perhaps a minute and did not address his political future.

He declined to take questions and promised to report back soon. As he went to leave, three reporters screamed out, “Are you resigning? Are you resigning?”, and Mr. Spitzer charged out of the room, slamming the door.

Eliot, we hardly knew ye...

My wife was particularly interested in this because of a deep, personal enmity for Spitzer dating from his State Attorney General days . In a major probe of impropriety in the insurance industry involving underwriters, kickbacks and lots of shady skullduggery, her company, people she knew and clients she worked with were involved. Files that passed through her hands were subpoenaed and she had to answer some questions to investigators—which pissed her off because it inconvenienced her. She reveled for a minute in the once-ascendant (electorally) Spitzer's getting some come-uppance. He was touted as “Eliot Ness 2000” for his crime-busting, imperious ways. Always a bit above it all and more than a bit of the rough-handed scold, this scathing story pretty much aborts the launch of his skyward political path and is the source of much martini-clinking in the Wall Street set who feels that he cracked the whip on them unfairly and made their jobs that much harder. The wife says that the mood down there is almost euphoric in many quarters. He was NOT well-liked amongst the “Big, swinging”...uh, “deposit” set.

He's on tape in this scandal procuring, arranging payment for, and lining up the lay-down spot for “the ill na-na” as we call it around the way. It should be a death-knell for his governorship—a ridiculously short governorship as he was only sworn in in December of '06. The white-knight crime-fighter's been payin' a fee, for the stuff that rhymes with the word wus-sy.

And not the just-outside-the-Lincoln Tunnel rough-trade “Tunnel Bunnies” either—this is the high-priced um...“spread” as it were. $3600 a pop, with “buy-out” options into the five-figure range if an extended-time tryst was desired (supposedly $50,000 for such calls). The whole “Pretty Woman” package—minus an adoring, Richard Gere-ish looking john and a happy ending. (The Hollywood kind, you little nasties!) Same kind of money, though.

And of course, he took part in the traditional “Let's embarrass the living hell out of the wife” press conference with her standing at his side. Lord...what an awful scene. But as usual, there's some back-story and juicy stuff the press seems to be missing as they''re caught up in the more obvious secrets and secretions.

1.) The possible political payback angle: Spitzer has got more enemies than a three-legged fox after “Tally Ho!”'s been called. The state GOP's been on his ass like mad since he rose in the public eye and he took down certain criminal parties in bed (pun unintended) with them, and his main enemy has been State Senate Leader Joe Bruno—a crooked, but crafty-ass GOP mover and shaker who Spitzer especially disliked, and who hated Spitzer in kind.The soon-to--ex-governor bent rules in going after the slimy Bruno in using state resources to spy on him to catch him doing wrong. He—unlike Bruno was sloppy in his dirt-doing and got caught up in it, allowing Bruno to play the indignant victim (!) while simultaneously drawing the disingenuous Bruno's wrath. And as the top dog in NY's upstate-run government, Joe Bruno was able to launch ethics investigations that helped tarnish Spitzer's do-gooder image quite a bit.

But it didn't do as much damage as the venomous, vindictive Bruno probably would have liked. Thus speculation is that this damning probe may be the result of favors and chits being called in by a waning northeast GOP. It is a federal wiretap that he got his ass caught up in, and one can only wonder if this is possibly the result of some of that not-so-long-ago talked about abuse of the NSA wiretapping that was suggested as being targeted at political opponents. Nobody told ya to go hoochie-chasin' Eliot, but something smells just a wee bit dead-rattish about this probe. Hmmmmmmm...

2.) The fallout from Spitzer's seemingly inevitable resignation: There are of course the calls for Spitzer to step down, and those calls will grow louder as this spools out sordidly. The Republican Governor's Conference has piously called for him to resign, as again Spitzer is so hated by them that their call is knee-jerk obvious. It sets up a scenario for them to steal the governorship back in 2010—and for them their candidate would seem clear, one Rudolph W. Giuliani, who through his long-standing connections to the U.S. Prosecutor's office (He is the former Southern District Attorney—the office that is presently dogging Spitzer) probably got a head-up about this when the investigation started late last year. It is their chance to resurrect a once-and-former-champion, albeit a lame-ass chance what with Rudy's own “sexy-time” baggage that addled his campaign this past year. It is exceedingly doubtful that he could pull that off, what with the state's GOP in disarray right now anyway. There will be another Dem candidate put up by state's newly powerful Dem machine, (probably the son of former Dem governor and present state Atty Gen. Andrew Cuomo—finally able with this to take an office that has eluded him in the past) and two years is an awfully long time to wait before something else awful about Rudy breaks in the news—you heard it here, first.

But the undiscussed development of Spitzer's stepping down is the following:

It would elevate to the office of Governor of the state of New York an African American. An African American with deep familial ties to the old-school Black wing of the state's Dem machine, “The Harlem Clubhouse”. One David Paterson, son of Basil Paterson, former NY Deputy Mayor, Secretary of State, and State Senator and bigwig in that clubhouse along with the one-time kingmaker and NY Boro Prez Percy Sutton—who also co-founded Inner City Broadcasting Corp. (of WLIB, WBLS and “Showtime At The Apollo” fame) and Congressional Rep. Charles Rangel.

Repeat—“It would elevate to the office of Governor of the state of New York an African American.”

Paterson, who is legally blind due to a childhood ailment that robbed him of total sight in one eye and drastically impaired vision in the other (and would also be the first blind governor in the country) was considering a run at Sen. Hillary Clinton's abandoned seat were she to win the Democratic nomination and presidency, but of course...things never do run according to Hoyle.

The irony is that Paterson himself joked about the general dead-end nature of the Lt. Governor's job not long ago:

David Paterson, who is 51 (his younger brother, Daniel, works for the Office of Court Administration), has few illusions about a job that has frustrated more than one predecessor. (Comparing the salary, staff and other perquisites, Alex, his 12-year-old son, who aspires to be an investment banker, recommended he remain in the Senate, adding, “I know a bad deal when I see one.”)

David Paterson said, “I’m learning what the title really means,” and added that many people are “focused on what the governor is doing and could care less about what the lieutenant governor is doing.”

I'm sure someone has pointed out to him the stunning truth of that last statement in the last three hours or so.

Fate is a funny, funny thing.

And a 12-year-old's prognostications are at this moment in Black New York's clubby political circles probably even funnier.


This is be verrrrry interesting.