Sorry, Spitzer, I’m Not Ready to Forgive You

Try as I might, I cannot overlook the fact that he broke the very laws that he was entrusted to uphold as attorney general.

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Former New York governor Eliot Spitzer is mobbed by reporters while attempting to collect signatures to run for comptroller of New York City on July 8, 2013, in New York City

Yesterday former New York governor Eliot Spitzer took to the airwaves and the streets to repeatedly ask for forgiveness so that he could get enough signatures to enter the race to become New York City‘s comptroller. “This is a land of second chances,” he told radio host Bill Press in the morning. “I think it is a land of forgiveness.”

“I think we all know, when you speak to people, there is forgiveness in the public,” he told CBS News.

“I have erred, I have sinned, I make no denial of that, I am asking for an opportunity to come back and serve,”  he said on MSNBC. “Five years later, I think I can ask for forgiveness.”

Well, sorry, Spitzer, but I don’t think that I’m ready to forgive you, and after rereading the original criminal complaint against the four employees of the Emperors Club VIP, I’m not sure that I ever will be.

The Emperors Club VIP was the prostitution ring used by Spitzer, a former attorney general whose office busted prostitution rings because they’re illegal. In the complaint, Spitzer first appears as Client-9, a potentially problematic customer trying to book an appointment who “would not do traditional wire-transferring” and who is literally trying to tell the booking agent that the check is in the mail. But Emperors Club VIP has not received the payment. The agent asks Client-9 if he used a return mailing address on the package, and Client-9 says no. (He’s too smart for that!) The agent tries to make sure he used the correct name and address of the shell company, and Client-9 says, “Yup, same as in the past, no question about it,” as if he was haggling with a customer service rep over his ConEd bill.

Client-9 proceeds to call the agent five more times over the next 24 hours to debate how much credit he has with Emperors Club VIP (around $400 to $500) and to discuss the costs of transportation for “Kristen” from New York City to Washington, where he was staying at a hotel. The booker asks whether Spitzer could give “Kristen” extra funds at the appointment “in order to avoid payment issues in the future. Client-9 said maybe and that he would see if he could do that. [The booker] explained that … a deposit could be made so that he would have a credit, and they would not have to ‘go through this’ next time. Client-9 said perfect, and that he would call her regarding the room number.”

And on it goes, until 12:02 a.m. on the morning of Feb. 14, 2008, when “Kristen” calls the booker to report that Client-9 had left the hotel room. “Kristen” says that she liked him, and that she did not think he was difficult, although the booker says “that from what she had been told ‘he’ (believed to be a reference to Client-9) would ask you to do things that, like, you might not think were safe—you know—I mean that … very basic things.”

It’s not the extramarital sex (safe or not) that makes me think Spitzer’s not worthy to run for dogcatcher. It’s not the narcissism, the old the-rules-don’t-apply-to-me attitude that seems so symptomatic, or perhaps is a pre-existing condition, among our elected officials. What bothers me about Spitzer’s particular transgression—what sets it apart from those of the other fallen officials he’s being compared to—is that he is breaking the very laws he was entrusted to uphold. Not once. Not twice. Many times. That he was so cavalier about it, nonchalant even, only adds insult to injury.

(MORE: How New York Comptroller Candidate Skated Criminal Charges for Prostitution)

It’s still unclear whether Spitzer was soliciting prostitutes when he was attorney general, although a 22-year-old woman told ABC News that he did, or whether the habit only began when he arrived at the governor’s office. I’m not sure which is worse, and I’m not sure it matters. Am I being naive? Perhaps. All I know is that like many New Yorkers, I loved Eliot Spitzer. I voted for Eliot Spitzer, repeatedly. I had friends who became prosecutors because of Eliot Spitzer, dedicated lawyers who may never look at public service the same way again.

Spitzer can do whatever he wants in private life. But he keeps urging the public to “look at his record,” at what he did while in office as attorney general and governor, and give him a second chance. I did what he asked. I looked again, and I do not think he gets to wipe the slate completely clean and start all over. Ironically, this seems to put me in the same camp with Wall Street moguls, many of whom hated Spitzer’s regulatory instincts, and Kristin Davis, the former head of an escort service, who is also running for comptroller. Strange bedfellows indeed. If only it were otherwise.

18 comments
maysfashiondiary
maysfashiondiary

I have already forgotten Spitzer and felt bad that he didn't win.

I know we don't live in a perfect world with perfect individuals.  Spitzer has proven to be an efficient public servant in the past--fighting on behalf of taxpayers against the powerful Wall Street.  He deserves a second chance.

BillPearlman
BillPearlman

I'd bet serious money that if Ruth is a resident of NY. And was forced to voter on in the general election, she would vote for Spitzer if he was the Democratic nominee. The Republican nominee is a guy named John Burnett. Black guy who is actually qualified for the job .But won't get the vote of Konigsberg. Not in a million years. 

Leftcoastrocky
Leftcoastrocky

Okay, Spitzer lost Ruth's vote -- let's move on.

schafer1a
schafer1a

Some people here argue that its not WHAT Spittzer did(his infidelity,etc) but the fact that he broke some of the laws he was supposed  to enforce. I wonder if that's true. What kind of regressed morality says that our personal behavior in every aspect of our lives must be determined solely by the letter of the law rather than also  guided by our convictions?     How many of those people would feel the same if Spitzer's vice were frequent marijuana use or poker  instead? What if this was 60 years ago in the South, and  Spitzer attempted to bi-pass segregation laws on the sly while in office?

  The fact is,  public officials are constantly making decisions concerning which laws to enforce more aggressively and which to ease up on, taking into account shifts in public sentiment and other political considerations, as well as taking into account personal convictions. We all know the law is a living, evolving thing. All we have to do is look at the list of culturally outdated statutes lingering on the books but no longer enforced.

  I suspect that a lot of the resentment toward Spitzer comes from  the suspicion that it wasn't conviction driving Spitzer's behavior, no passionate belief in polyamory, but simple hypocrisy.  We can  forgive a guy who seems to be saying "look, I don't personally buy onto that way of thinking, but I'll do my best to enforce it if that's what the public wants" . But there's going to be different attitude toward the  guy who plays the holy crusader and then carves out a special exemption for himself. That guy should be prepared to be considered  a sleaze at best, and maybe a little dangerous.

eagle11772
eagle11772

Spitzer violated FEDERAL LAW !  He SHOULD HAVE BEEN indicted !  Why ANYBODY would want to vote for this POS, and his compatriot, THE WEENER MAN, is beyond by ken.

buffalo.barnes102
buffalo.barnes102

To me, the use of prostitutes by married men says more about the monotony of marriage than their basic moral fiber. You don't eat the same food or wear the same clothes every day, yet you are supposed to be "happy" having sex with the same person for the rest of your life? It didn't work for me even though I was happy in most other areas. If it so evil why is prostitution still a flourishing business? Wouldn't "god" have wiped it out centuries ago? 

JWalk
JWalk

Most people don't really care much about prostitution - at least the girl was a consenting adult, and not a sex slave or something.  If he lived in Nevada, it would be perfectly legal.  A hypocrite, yes - Adulterer, yes - basically a victimless crime (except for his family).  I'm sure traffic cops break the speed limit, too - I don't really care about them either.  

Denesius
Denesius

Why shouldn't he try to take advantage of the public's short memory? A bit of practiced remorse on camera, contrite statements to the press, penitence in a couple of interviews, and you get people like gumshoo who state in public- "I am voting for...."

From politician Sanford to cook Deen to minister Ted Haggard. The public appears more eager to forgive than to hold accountable.  And then you turn around and wonder why politics is so ineffectual & corrupt, and politician held in such low esteem.

gumshoo
gumshoo

I love how sanctimonious every is being about this.  Most people have done worse in their private lives and don't hold back when judging others.  He was good at trying to clean Wall Street corruption.  I don't care who he sleeps with.  This reminds me of when homophobes go crazy about same sex couples.  The ones who yell the loudest are always outed as closet predators.   How is it that Mark Sanford won in SC?  Because Republicans were loathe to let a Democrat take the seat, so they voted an adulterer back into office who lied.   I am voting for Spitzer. 

Openminded1
Openminded1

Spitzer is a joke and if the people of New York vote this moron into any office they deserve him and get what they vote for.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@JWalk aS A COP i DID NOT CARE ABOUT Prostitution much and I deed speed from time to time, But i was not stupid and make an ass out of myself. And it is only legal in certain parts of Nevada.

Denesius
Denesius

@gumshoo I guess you can vote for whomever, but don't lose sight of one fact: Sanford wasn't just an adulterer. He was the state's top law enforcement officer, who blatantly broke the law for his own convenience.  You want someone with those credentials in office again? 19.5 million people in that state and this is the best you can come up with? 

buffalo.barnes102
buffalo.barnes102

@Openminded1 @buffalo.barnes102 

True. But Spitzer had pissed off lots of high-powered, wealthy people. Even if his own urges hadn't brought him down I'm pretty sure they had plans for him anyway. It seems a pity to waste a mind like his though.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@gumshoo @Openminded1 No I am 63 years old and married 35 years now. You worked to many cases as a PI if you think everyone is having an affair. Assuming you are or were A PI just like you assumed I was having an affair. The affair is not the issue with Spitzer it is trust.

buffalo.barnes102
buffalo.barnes102

@Openminded1 @buffalo.barnes102 

Addiction takes many forms and these political "junkies" are no more; no less than addicts. Once they taste the power and glory and get their snouts in the public trough, they are hooked. Spitzer is "on the bubble" as far as my forgiveness goes. Weiner needs to stay on the bench much longer. Sandford (?) is just uncut "politics".