Eliot Spitzer cited “personal failings” as the reason for his departure, but the very public scandal doesn’t promise to disappear with his resignation as Governor of New York. With his wife Silda by his side, Spitzer apologized to her, his family, his supporters, and everyone in the state for his patronage of high-priced hookers during his term as governor and as Attorney General. It appears that the feds will drop the other shoe on Spitzer:
Gov. Eliot Spitzer, reeling from revelations that he had been a client of a prostitution ring, announced his resignation today, becoming the first governor of New York to be forced from office in nearly a century.
Mr. Spitzer, appearing somber and with his wife at his side, said his resignation is to be effective Monday, and that Lt. Gov. David A. Paterson would be sworn in to replace him.
“I am deeply sorry that I did not live up to what was expected of me,” he said. “To every New Yorker, and to all those who believed in what I tried to stand for, I sincerely apologize.”
“Over the course of my public life, I have insisted — I believe correctly — that people regardless of their position or power take responsibility for their conduct,” he added. “I can and will ask no less of myself. For this reason, I am resigning from the office of governor.”
I predicted yesterday that Spitzer might try a Larry Craig strategy and just outlast the outrage. According to the New York Times, he considered that as a possibility. Spitzer found out just how few supporters he has left in Albany. As AP notes in his post, that certainly makes Spizter’s claim that he couldn’t put his beloved state through any more pain look less than honest or noble.
Spitzer avoids the ignominy of impeachment, but that’s hardly the last mine in the field. Judging from the appearance of Ted Wells at the resignation statement, Spitzer expects serious legal trouble ahead. Wells has represented clients such as Scooter Libby, Robert “Torch” Torricelli, and Michael Espy, whom Wells successfully defended against corruption charges during the Clinton administration. It hints that Spitzer hasn’t gotten a pass from federal prosecutors for violations related to his financial transactions hiding the payment to the prostitution service and could wind up in a high-profile felony trial.
Perhaps that’s why Spitzer kept emphasizing the supposedly “private” nature of his failings. He wants people to forget that he himself hardly treated prostitution as a private matter as Attorney General. He chose to not only prosecute them relentlessly, but used that to build his credentials as a law-and-order liberal. He even endorsed prosecution of johns as a means to fight prostitution, which belies all pretense of privacy claims at this late date. And an AG certainly knows that money-laundering is hardly a private affair.
He wants to make this about the sex. Doesn’t that sound familiar? Spitzer’s departure consists of a depressingly predictable combination of humiliation and arrogance.