March 11, 2008

Wiretap Ties Spitzer to Prostitution Ring

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The future of Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s (D-N.Y.) political career is currently on the line after being linked to a prostitution ring yesterday. The former attorney general, whose tenure has been marked by efforts to curb Wall Street corruption, was accused of arranging a meeting with a high-priced prostitute on Feb. 13.
According to the Associated Press, a federal wiretap captured a telephone call from a man identified as “Client 9,” planning a meeting with a prostitute. An anonymous law enforcement officer identified Spitzer as the man who paid $4,300 in cash to have sex with a “petite, pretty brunette, 5-feet-5 inches, and 105 pounds,” named Kristen, the AP reported.
While the governor has not been charged and prosecutors have not yet commented on the case, the governor faced immediate calls to resign.
“I think he will probably evaluate what he thinks is best for the party,” said Michael Mouton ’10, speakers chair for the Cornell Democrats. However, Mouton predicted that the scandal will have negative effects on the upcoming state elections.
Mouton said he believes that if there is enough hard material, he would expect the governor to resign.
“He has to step down. No one will stand with him,” said Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y) according to the AP. “I never try to take advantage or gloat over a personal tragedy. However, this is different. This is a guy who is so self-righteous, and so unforgiving.”
Yesterday afternoon, Spitzer stood alongside his wife to face the press and offer his apologies to both his family and the people of New York.
As the AP reported, Spitzer said, “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,” he continued.
The investigation into the call-girl service Emperors Club VIP was said to have begun as a tax inquiry about a year ago by the Internal Revenue Service, according to the AP. The analysis gathered telephone calls, e-mails and text-messages in addition to bank, travel and hotel records, but it is uncertain if Spitzer was being targeted in the initial stages of the investigation.
According to investigators, the ring has made over $1 million by selling the services of women. The Emperors Club is based in Brooklyn, N.Y. and advertises prostitutes that cost between $1,000 to $5,000 an hour.
The AP reported that it is unclear whether or not Spitzer will face charges for his involvement in the ring.
Spitzer, who was inaugurated 16 months ago, entered office aiming to target corruption within New York government. However, according to the AP, his term has been marked by turmoil and corruption with some questioning the future of his term as governor.
Most recently, however, it has been speculated that the Democratic Party would potentially take control of the state Senate.
Prof. Elizabeth Sanders, government, said that she was “shocked” to hear news of the Spitzer’s involvement in the scandal.
“[It is] just appalling that Spitzer would sacrifice his political career,” Sanders said. “Sometimes politicians forget [and] think they are invulnerable” causing them to commit what she referred to as “delusions of grandeur.”
On a local scale, Spitzer granted $2.3 million in January to help finance the rehabilitation of the Ithaca Gun factory site, a 2.1-acre property situated on Lake Street, near Ravenwood and Gunhill apartments. The demolition and cleanup of the site has been a work in progress for a number of years, with the city making numerous attempts to remove the asbestos and lead contamination that still remains.
“[Spitzer] sees Tompkins County as a wonderful place,” said Nathan Shinagawa (D-4th District), chair of the Budget and Capital Committee. “I’m very disappointed, almost speechless. So many of us trusted Spitzer for his background [in upholding justice]. I’m just heartbroken.”
Spitzer was known as the “Sheriff of Wall Street” throughout his two terms as attorney general, examining suspicious corporate practices and investigating stock brokerage and insurance agencies.
If Spitzer were to resign he would be replaced by Lt. Gov. David Patterson (D-N.Y.), who would be the first black governor of New York.