Spitzer's future in doubt after being named in scandal
As Gov. Eliot Spitzer faced mounting calls toresign amid a prostitution scandal, a law enforcement official saidTuesday that the governor first came under suspicion because ofcash payments from several bank accounts to an account operated bya call-girl ring. Spitzer was the initial target of the investigation and wastracked using court-ordered wiretaps that appear to have recordedhim arranging for a prostitute to meet him at a Washington hotel inmid-February, the official said. The official spoke to The Associated Press condition ofanonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation. The scandal surrounding the man who built his politicalreputation on rooting out corruption stunned the state. Calls forSpitzer's resignation began immediately and intensified Tuesdaywith the New York Daily News, New York Post and Newsday alldemanding that he step down. "Hit the road, John ... and make it quick!" read the headlineof the Daily News editorial, while the Post called him "NY's nakedemperor." Spitzer retreated from public view Monday afternoon, when heappeared glassy-eyed with his shellshocked wife, Silda, at his sideand apologized to his family and the public, but did not directlyacknowledge any involvement with the prostitute. "I have acted in a way that violates my obligations to myfamily and violates my - or any - sense of right and wrong," hesaid. "I apologize to the public, whom I promised better." Spitzer allegedly paid for the call girl to take a train fromNew York to Washington - a move that opened the transaction up tofederal prosecution because she crossed state lines. The governorhas not been charged, and prosecutors would not comment on thecase. A Spitzer spokesman said the governor has retained a largeManhattan law firm. The case started when banks noticed the frequent transfers fromseveral accounts and filed suspicious activity reports with theInternal Revenue Service, the law enforcement official told the AP.The accounts were traced back to Spitzer, prompting publiccorruption investigators to open an inquiry. Attorney General Michael Mukasey was made aware of theinvestigation because it involved a high-ranking politicalofficial. The inquiry found that Spitzer was a repeat customer with theEmperors Club VIP, a high-end prostitution service, the officialsaid. In an affidavit filed in Manhattan federal court last week,Spitzer appeared as "Client 9," according to another lawenforcement official who also spoke on condition of anonymitybecause of the ongoing investigation. Client 9 wanted a high-priced prostitute named Kristen to cometo Washington on a 5:39 p.m. train from Manhattan Feb. 13. The doorto the hotel room would be left ajar. Train tickets, cab fare, roomservice, and the minibar were all on him. "Yup, same as in the past. No question about it," the callertold Kristen's boss, when asked if he would make his payment to thesame business as usual, a federal affidavit said. The client paid$4,300 to Kristen, touted by the escort service as a "petite,pretty brunette," according to the court papers. The Feb. 13 tryst took place in the Mayflower hotel, whereSpitzer rented a second room for the woman under another name, thelaw enforcement official who spoke to The AP on Tuesday said.Spitzer had to sneak past his State Police detail to get to herroom, the official said. According to the court papers, an Emperors Club agent was toldby the prostitute that her evening with Client 9 went well. Theagent said she had been told that the client "would ask you to dothings that ... you might not think were safe ... very basicthings," according to the papers, but Kristen responded by saying:"I have a way of dealing with that ... I'd be, like, listen dude,you really want the sex?" Spitzer, a 48-year-old father of three teenage girls, waselected with a historic margin of victory, and took office Jan. 1,2007, vowing to stamp out corruption in New York government in thesame way that he took on Wall Street executives while stateattorney general. Spitzer's cases as attorney general included a few criminalprosecutions of prostitution rings and tourism involvingprostitutes. He also uncovered crooked practices and self-dealingin the stock brokerage and insurance industries and in corporateboard rooms; he went after former New York Stock Exchange chairmanRichard Grasso over his $187.5 million compensation package. Spitzer become known as the "Sheriff of Wall Street." Timemagazine named him "Crusader of the Year," and the tabloidsproclaimed him "Eliot Ness." The square-jawed graduate ofPrinceton University and Harvard Law was sometimes mentioned as apotential presidential candidate. Spitzer's term as governor has been fraught with problems,including an unpopular plan to grant driver's licenses to illegalimmigrants and a plot by his aides to smear his main Republicannemesis. It would not be the first time that a high-profile politicianbecame ensnared in a prostitution scandal. Sen. David Vitter ofLouisiana acknowledged in July that his Washington phone number wasamong those called several years ago by an escort service. Scandals also recently derailed neighboring Connecticut Gov.John Rowland and New Jersey's Jim McGreevey. And Sen. Larry Craigof Idaho pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct after being arrestedlast June in a Minneapolis airport restroom. Attention turned to the state's lieutenant governor, DavidPaterson, who automatically becomes governor if Spitzer quits.There was no immediate comment from Paterson, who would become NewYork's first black governor. There was no word on Spitzer's plans, but Assembly Republicanleader James Tedisco said Tuesday he received a call Monday fromPaterson. Tedisco said Paterson raised the possibility of such a scenarioby asking if Tedisco, who has been at odds with Spitzer, would bewilling to start fresh with him. "He called me to ask if we would give him the benefit of thedoubt, and go forward," Tedisco said. "I told him we would."
Report links Spitzer to prostitution ring
Gov. Spitzer?s complete statement
Click here for the New Jersey connection to the Spitzer scandal.
Complaint that mentions "Client 9"