Eliot Spitzer: Public Can Trust Me, I'm Qualified
The prostitution scandal that drove him from office will not weigh heavily on voters, former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer told CNBC on Wednesday. He said voters will come to embrace his knowledge and experience as he seeks to become New York City's top financial officer.
"When the public looks at the record that I've built, … they will say, 'Yes indeed, he's one of the few voices who was out there properly critiquing and analyzing when everybody else was buying into the so-called new paradigm,'" he said in the interview with "Squawk Box."
Spitzer is mounting a petition bid to qualify for the ballot for New York City comptroller, five years after resigning in disgrace as governor amid a prostitution scandal. Should Spitzer prevail in his effort, one of his opponents will be the very woman who helped end his career: former madam and Libertarian candidate Kristin Davis.
(Read More: Spitzer's 'Madam' to Run Against Him)
"Trust is the issue," Spitzer acknowledged, but added: "The questions about my private life at a certain point will have to focus and shift to a conversation about the substance of this office, which I think is what the public really does care about."
The man formerly known as the 'Sheriff of Wall Street"—for his aggressive pursuit of financial misdeeds while he was New York attorney general—told CNBC that primary voters will look at "the totality of my career" as opposed to the scandal that pushed him out of elective office.
Calling the New York City comptroller position "a dream job," Spitzer dismissed the idea that he would be a politically activist investor.
"This isn't about political activism, let me just take that off the board," Spitzer told CNBC. "This is about the appropriate role shareholders as owners of entities should play. Ownership trumps regulation. ... Neither regulation nor prosecution can generate good judgment within organizations. Only ownership can generate that."
He insisted he was seeking to serve "in the spirit of public office, and try to contribute. That's what this is all about."
Spitzer said that his broadsides against the investment banking community as New York's Attorney General was "never personal" — even though his combative style earned him the enmity of Wall Street's top chiefs. "They may not want to have lunch with me, I understand that, but it was never personal," he said.
The former governor is embarked on a quest for redemption alongside former Rep. Anthony Weiner, a fellow Democrat who is running in a crowded primary to succeed Mike Bloomberg as New York mayor. In the interview, Spitzer punted on the opportunity to endorse Weiner, who is also trying to make a comeback from a sex scandal, or offer words of support.
"I'm not supporting any mayoral candidate," Spitzer said. "I ... have enough going on in the comptroller's race without diving into the politics of another one."
—By CNBC's Javier David.