Eliot Spitzer was the Attorney General for the State of New York from the year 1998 until he was elected as the Governor of New York in 2006. During his tenure as Attorney General, he was well known for cracking cases related to fraud and mismanagement of funds.
The highlight of his career was the Merrill Lynch case where the interests of the employees conflicted with the financial interests of the clients, which led to bad advice to the clients. The company’s reputation was badly damaged. A landmark settlement happened in 2002 where ten big firms paid over $1 billion to cut off the link between investment banking and research. Independent research was to be pursued for the next five years and the spinning of IPOs would be brought to a halt. This agreement brought a change in the way Wall Street functioned. Next, Spitzer targeted the mutual fund industry and won settlements there. From a young age, he was very competitive and aggressive.
During his career as Governor of New York, he proposed a number of changes, touching on controversial subjects. Wishing to legalize same sex marriages, he was met with strong opposition. He also issued an order that allowed illegal immigrants to apply for and be issued a driver’s license. His tenure ended in March 2008 due to his involvement in a scandal involving a prostitution service.
It started with him arranging to meet with a prostitute who went by the name of Kristen at the Mayflower hotel in Washington. Spitzer booked himself under the false name of George Fox and paid cash for the entire transaction which involved the travel, accommodation, room service, and the time spent. The girl’s actual name was Ashley Dupree. He also paid a thousand dollar advance to the agency for future services. Over a span of six months, there were seven to eight transactions with the agency. North Fork Bank was suspicious about his transactions and reported to the Internal Revenue Services. He was followed by federal agents a couple of times. The IRS then contacted the FBI as they suspected extortion or political corruption. This led the authorities to Emperors club VIP, the agency running the prostitution ring.
Spitzer heard about the investigations and called for a press conference to announce his resignation. He felt that as an individual he had to take responsibilities for his actions as he expected everyone around him to do the same. After the press conference, the Congressmen of the State and the Republican minority leader called for his resignation and threatened to start impeachment proceedings. The actual George Fox clarified the rumors saying there was no connection between him and the scandal, except for the use of his name. He expressed his displeasure and disappointment in Spitzer for having used his name. During his career, he had prosecuted many prostitutes and prostitution rings, so his involvement with a prostitute was not taken lightly.
Spitzer’s offense was not punishable but it was considered an offense to his family. When Spitzer resigned as Governor of New York, he also lost his status as super delegate in the 2008 Democratic nomination for President. Post the scandal, Spitzer was considering pro bono legal work or work on environmental issues. He still made public appearances and media commitments. Spitzer co-hosted a show with Kathleen Parker called “In the Arena” on CNN which was recently canceled. In 2009, he joined the City College of New York faculty and he is teaching Law and Public Policy to undergrad students.
Spitzer wrote an opinion piece in The Washington Post about the financial crisis of 2008 with suggestions on what can be done. After that, he started a series of columns on the economy in the magazine called Slate. He also had several television appearances on Campbell Brown, The Colbert Report, and others. In 2010, “Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer”, a documentary based on his life was released. Spitzer now spends more time with his family, especially his wife.
Here’s more information on Eliot Spitzer.
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