Monday, March 10, 2008

Eliot's Nest 

Wow. Just wow. Who needs sex this badly?

Gov. Eliot Spitzer, the crusading politician who built his career on rooting out corruption, has told senior advisers he was involved in a prostitution ring, The New York Times reported Monday. In a public statement, Spitzer apologized to his family and the public but did not elaborate on the reported links to a prostitution ring.

The Times reported that a person with knowledge of the governor's role believes the governor is identified as a client in court papers. Four people allegedly connected to a high-end prostitution ring called Emperors Club VIP were arrested last week.

The New York Times report is almost hilarious:
Mr. Spitzer gained national attention when he served as attorney general with his relentless pursuit of Wall Street wrongdoing. As attorney general, he also had prosecuted at least two prostitution rings as head of the state’s organized crime task force.

In one such case in 2004, Mr. Spitzer spoke with revulsion and anger after announcing the arrest of 16 people for operating a high-end prostitution ring out of Staten Island.

“”This was a sophisticated and lucrative operation with a multitiered management structure,” Mr. Spitzer said at the time. ”It was, however, nothing more than a prostitution ring.”

Obviously, public officials cannot be trusted not to pay for sex. We need a comprehensive, global settlement between all public officials, on the one hand, and all prostitutes, on the other, to ensure that henceforth there is an impenetrable wall between politicians and the sex industry. There is no other way to restore public confidence in the sex-for-hire business.

MORE: Tom Maguire: "Maybe he could offer the ladies driver's licenses..."

Paul Mirengoff says it is "sad." Indeed it is, but it is also funny, insofar as he was an insufferably sanctimonious prosecutor.

Stephen Bainbridge is closer to the mark: "Is schadenfreude a sin? If so, I’m sinning big time today."

Kevin Drum notes that prostitution ought to be legal and we should not care, but we will and therefore Spitzer's survival prospects are "less than 10%." I agree that prostitution ought to be legal, but Eliot Spitzer not only does not think that, he went out of his way to bust prostitutes. How phony does he have to be? Very, apparently.

STILL MORE: Jonah Goldberg: 'The words "therapy," "sex addiction," "Oprah," and "redemption" are in Elliot Spitzer's future.'

MORE!: Buddy of mine: "Jim McGreevey's gotta be feeling slightly better about himself today."


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Mar 10, 05:04:00 PM:

Whatever happened to hooker/client confidentiality, anyway? Once upon a time, some things were sacred.  

By Anonymous slinkybender, at Mon Mar 10, 05:09:00 PM:

Who really thinks he was "busting his commercial cherry" with that phone call?

He's probably been seeing hookers for years -- including when he was DA.

Maybe that's why there were hardly any prostitution busts during his term of office.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Mar 10, 05:17:00 PM:

I wonder if blackmail by The Emporer's Club VIP wasn't the driver for him to put two other similar prostitution rings out of business. I would guess that with his info on hand, the owners of the Emporer's Club can get lots of things done in Albany and elsewhere.
All in all, it could not possibly happen to a nicer guy!  

By Blogger Escort81, at Mon Mar 10, 05:43:00 PM:

TH -

This is really tragic. He's a PU classmate, and also is a HLS '84 classmate of some of my good friends who went to law school in Cambridge, MA. I knew him only slightly, though.

The hypocrisy is pretty bad, since he did prosecute prostitution rings. I mean, high priced hookers? An affair, he might have survived (we know from the 1990s that it is not something a Democrat can be impeached and convicted on, or would resign over), but you can't frickin' pay for it when you are a DA or governor.

It's incredibly irresponsible and reckless of him, given everyone who worked to get him elected and relied on him to do his job. I realize we are all sinners, but, man, keep the little head in your pants, or at the very least, don't pay for it.

As slim as the pickings were on campus in the late 70s / early 80s (the first coed class to graduate was 1973, and the ratio of men to women in the early classes was 5/1 falling to 2/1, before becoming the roughly 1/1 ration it is now), I know of no classmates who paid for it (and certainly not at those prices!), so I don't think it's anything he learned as an undergrad.

Wow. What a waste of talent.

I feel bad for his kids.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Mon Mar 10, 05:58:00 PM:

I also feel bad for his kids. Is it "tragic"? Perhaps in the poetic, literary sense. As far as I'm concerned, though, Spitzer leveraged New York's ridiculous Martin Act into a wholly counterproductive state-sanctioned extortion operation against the securities industry, and he (and others) had no compunction about ruining the lives of others.  

By Blogger Escort81, at Mon Mar 10, 06:20:00 PM:

TH -

Yes, agree that Spitzer's use of the Martin Act was a real stretch, and his prosecutorial personality was often abrasive in a counterproductive way. We might agree that there were better ways of cleaning up the excesses of the finance industry in the late 1990s / early part of this decade (maybe having the SEC do its job). No doubt there are some happy folks on Wall Street and in the insurance industry today. So, yes, tragic in the literary sense (i.e., someone is "dead on the stage" at the end).

Clearly, others in the thread above knew him better on campus than I did, and aren't feeling terribly sympathetic.  

By Blogger Georgfelis, at Mon Mar 10, 07:12:00 PM:

I'm kind of having a mix of sympathy and schadenfreudemocrat.

Feels strange, like seeing your mother-in-law drive off a cliff in your brand new uninsured car.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Mar 10, 07:25:00 PM:

Who needs sex this badly?

The same sort of personality that desperately needs to hold high office?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Mar 10, 08:18:00 PM:

does anyne recall that in the 1970s a pros ring on 5th avenue was th starting poit for the redignation of vice predidnt spiro agnew, and the the dreyfus fund and later sec labor ray donovan were part of the haul?
gooogle xaviera hollander.
or recall an old bob dylan lyric...to live outside the law u must be honest.  

By Blogger lawhawk, at Mon Mar 10, 08:37:00 PM:

How did Spitzer deal with Alan Hevesi? He called on him to resign and that he was unfit for office.

Well, Spitzer's now in Hevesi's shoes - admitting to engaging in illegal and unethical behavior. Sounds like he should take his own advice and resign.  

By Blogger GreenmanTim, at Mon Mar 10, 09:28:00 PM:

A polititian with strong approval ratings can weather a sex scandal by leveraging political capital or coming to Jesus. Spitzer lacks the ratings and both options would seem to be off the table for him.

David Paterson will end up serving out Spitzer's term. New York could do much worse.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Mar 10, 11:03:00 PM:


I am also a Princeton '80 alum. I'm a scientist and Spitzer was the opposite of a scientist, but I saw him him a number of times and we had some common friends. We didn't interact much, but I have to say I am not surprised today.

I think you'll recall that he was the typical student government jackass, power-hungry in his little tiny area of influence, always scheming, a real pr1ck.

Even then he had scary-dead eyes, like a damn shark. He struck me as a ruthless SOB at the time, and I didn't have much to do with him if I could avoid it.

Totally in character what happened today, IMO.

And this ain't a tragedy. A soldier getting killed and leaving behind a wife and two kids is tragic. This is more "hoist by your own petard" comical.  

By Anonymous Pee wee the kiwi, at Tue Mar 11, 12:01:00 AM:

ELIOTS NEST even the vultures are staying away  

By Blogger Escort81, at Tue Mar 11, 12:30:00 AM:

Anon 11:03 -

I respect your take on it; you interacted with him more than I did.

We used to say about PU, when people asked us as undergrads what we liked most about the place, "the best thing about the place is the people and the worst thing about the place is the people."

I agree that a soldier getting killed and leaving a family behind is a true tragedy, and orders of magnitude greater than this sordid affair, but a betrayal of public trust is at least a little bit of a tragedy (ordeal, tribualtion, what?).  

By Blogger Escort81, at Tue Mar 11, 01:13:00 AM:

TH -

Re: your 3/10 5:58 PM comment, the WSJ editorial about sums it up.

Overreaching (Spitzer, not the opinion piece), in a nutshell.

But can you be a "reformer" without being an asshole? Or was it always just about the accumulation of power for power's sake for him?

Having been involved in a few business workouts/turnarounds (the closest I have ever come to instituting "reform"), you have to break eggs to make an omelet, sometimes at a human cost. It can be done in a professional manner, though, as I am sure you know, without threats and bullying. Firing people who have done no wrong but can no longer be afforded by the organization is never easy.

(Which brings to mind a favorite quote from "Analyze This" -- DeNiro says to Billy Crystal, "well, yeah, maybe I was going to whack you, but I was real conflicted about it.")

Obviously, letting someone go from a company is not the same as threatening a CEO or CFO with criminal indictment, but I think my point is you can be a good turnaround guy or you can be a Chainsaw Al; can you be an effective "political reformer" without being a Spitzer? I hope so, but nobody comes to mind in the last decade or two. Any names anybody can throw out there?

Richardson Dilworth in Philly in the 1950s?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Mar 11, 08:32:00 AM:

I think I speak for many people when I say:


[takes breath]


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Mar 11, 02:51:00 PM:

Paying for sex???????
I hate paying for parking!  

By Anonymous ace, at Tue Mar 11, 06:55:00 PM:

"Who needs sex this badly?"

Spoken like a true Republican. Substitute money for sex if you have trouble understanding it.  

By Blogger Christopher Chambers, at Tue Mar 11, 09:06:00 PM:

True, Ace, True. But Spitzer's still a douchebag.  

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