Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Troubling Questions About Spitzer Scandal

The New York Times, which failed to make a sex-scandal charge against John McCain stick, has settled for the scalp of New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, exposing his involvement with high-priced prostitutes that will likely lead to his resignation.

Spitzer, whose career was built on bull-in-the-china-shop pursuit of corporate malfeasance as Attorney General of New York and whose term in Albany has made him less than lovable, will get little sympathy from politicians, the press and most of the public, but journalistically, there are some troubling questions.

"Mr. Spitzer’s involvement with the prostitution operation came to light in court papers filed last week," the Times reports today, citing unnamed "federal authorities" and "officials," although Spitzer was not named in the affidavit by Assistant US Attorneys.

The case started with IRS investigation of "suspicious transactions" about possible bribery, but it soon became clear from wiretaps authorized by the US Attorney General (Alberto Gonzales?) that Spitzer's financial gyrations involved sex rather than official corruption.

The prostitution ring is now being prosecuted, but Spitzer's legal exposure seems limited to possible charges of "a crime called structuring" that involves concealing of payments and sources.

What, then, justifies the outing of Spitzer at this point by anonymous federal officials and the Times of activity that so far has not been deemed illegal and does not involve his duties as Governor?

Spitzer's leaving office in this situation would be in sharp contrast to two Senators who remain in their positions, Louisiana's David Vitter, who admitted patronizing prostitutes last year, and Larry Craig, who pled guilty to soliciting men's room sex but was defended by the ACLU on the basis that it was private behavior.

John McCain is likable and Eliot Spitzer is far from lovable, but does that difference justify his destruction by front-page exposure of personal misbehavior?


Liza said...

I have read just about all of the articles to date on this and I'm not sure what to make of it.

Eliot Spitzer clearly has enemies.

Even so, it does make one wonder why Spitzer did this. Did he finally get to that place where politicians think they are invincible? The morality issue is far less interesting than how someone like Eliot Spitzer could get caught.

It seems likely that Spitzer will resign, rather pursue the "sin and redemption" course that Christian politicians are so fond of.

I can't even guess about the New York Times. They have not always been the gold standard for journalistic integrity as evidenced by their role in hawking the US invasion of Iraq for Bush/Cheney.

Anonymous said...

Why haven't Clients 1 through 8 been identified? At the rates these working girls were charging, these Johns must be pretty well heeled and maybe well connected.

The "structuring" is a form of money laundering. But was Spitzer or the house doing it?

Where the Mann Act is concerned, the ladies were arranging their own transportation across state lines.

So far it doesn't seem worse than Lavatory Larry offering cheap sex to strangers, or Diaper Dave Vitter and his juvenile fetish about potty training.

Unknown said...

But WHY? Why is the press skewering members of the democratic party and letting republicans slip by? What is really going on? Keep blogging, because internet folks need to hear the wisdom of your generation and your voices are so few.

I've always meant to tell you how much I enjoy your posts. Very rich.