Today the presidential campaign takes a back seat for my fellow New Yorkers. As I'm sure most of you know by now, it was leaked to the New York Times that Governor Eliot Spitzer has been named as a client of a prostitution ring. Click here to review the full complaint for yourselves that references Spitzer as "Client # 9." For perspectives from progressive reform minded New Yorkers I recommend reading The Albany Project.
Click here to read the transcript and access a video of his apology.
In a court of law citizens are entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. However, politics represents the court of public opinion. Within that universe, public servants who claim moral superiority live by different rules. Governor Spitzer was a crusader as New York's Attorney General against corruption on Wall Street. He utlized that platform to establish a political identity as the ultimate change agent who would clean up Albany's sesspool culture.
Hence, given that Spitzer was elected with a reformist mandate, it seems he will have no other choice but resignation. Furthemore, these allegations are not merely about an indiscreet private affair but violating the law. Even worse, one has to surmise that state resources such as transportation vehicles were potentially utilized by Governor Spitzer to facilitate his liasons with prostitutes. Ironic, as Spitzer's administration over zealously targeted Republican Senate leader Joe Bruno for his unethical use of a state helicopter last year. Another bitter irony is that while Attorney General, Spitzer's office prosecuted two prostitution rings.
As a reform minded New York liberal I'm deeply saddened by today's events. For too long, state government in New York has awarded contracts based on bribes instead of merit while decisions impacting the livelihood of millions were made in secret. In 2006, Spitzer earned a mandate from the people to tackle Albany's pervasive influence peddling culture that squanders tax dollars, mismanages the Mass Transit Authority, ignores public education and only excels at building prisons. Spitzer's fall from grace may well have set back the cause of reform in the Empire State for another fifty years. For that reason alone Governor Spitzer should resign forthwith. If it's proven that Spitzer committed a crime he should not receive any special treatment.