Spitzer Quits as Governor Over Call-Girl Scandal
Eliot Spitzer resigned as governor of New York, effective Monday, two days after being implicated in a prostitution ring.
"I look at my time as governor, with a sense of what might have been," Spitzer said from his New York Office.
"There's much more to be done and I cannot allow my private failings to disrupt the people's work," Spitzer continued. "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. I can and will ask no less of myself."
Spitzer will be succeeded by Lt. Gov. David Paterson, who will become New York's first black governor and the first in the nation's history who is legally blind. Spitzer said he consulted with Paterson on picking a resignation date that "will allow an orderly transition."
CNBC will broadcast a one-hour special, "The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer," to be hosted by Dylan Ratigan at 8 pm ET Wednesday night.
No Plea Deal in Place, Feds Say
Amid speculation that Spitzer was attempting to reach a plea deal with federal investigators to avoid or reduce any criminal liability, a federal prosecutor said no such pact had been reached.
"There is no agreement between this office and Gov. Eliot Spitzer, relating to his resignation or any other matter," Michael Garcia, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement.
Garcia's office is investigating the prostitution ring that Spitzer reportedly frequented.
(See footage of Spitzer's resignation statement in the video at left.)
The scandal erupted Monday when allegations surfaced that Spitzer, a 48-year-old married man with three teenage daughters, spent thousands of dollars on a call girl named Kristen at a swanky Washington hotel on the night before Valentine's Day.
Calls for his resignation came immediately. Republicans began talking impeachment if he didn't step aside. Meanwhile, Spitzer stayed holed up in his Manhattan apartment, where he was reportedly weighing his options, including waiting to use resignation as a bargaining chip with federal prosecutors to avoid indictment.
The case involving Spitzer started when banks noticed frequent cash transfers from several accounts and filed suspicious activity reports with the Internal Revenue Service, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press. The accounts were traced back to Spitzer, leading public corruption investigators toopen an inquiry.
A law enforcement official said Tuesday that Spitzer had spent tens of thousands of dollars with the call-girl service Emperors Club VIP. Another official said the amount could be as high as $80,000.
Still another law enforcement official said investigators found that during the tryst with Kristen, Spitzer used two rooms at Washington's Mayflower Hotel--one for himself, the other for the prostitute. Sometime around 10 p.m., Spitzer sneaked away from his security detail and made his way to her room, the official said.
According to an affidavit, a federal judge approved wiretaps on the escort service's telephone in January and February. FBI agents in Washington had the Mayflower under surveillance when Spitzer was in town, a senior law enforcement official said.
The officials spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.
Spitzer, a first-term Democrat, built his political reputation on rooting out government corruption, and made a name for himself as attorney general as crusader against shady practices and overly generous compensation. He also cracked down on prostitution.
He was known as the "Sheriff of Wall Street." Time magazine named him "Crusader of the Year," and the tabloids proclaimed him "Eliot Ness." The square-jawed graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law was sometimes mentioned as a potential candidate for president.
He rode into the governor's office with a historic margin of victory on Jan. 1, 2007, vowing to stamp out corruption in New York government in the same way that he took on Wall Street executives with a vengeance while state attorney general.
His term as governor has been fraught with problems, including an unpopular plan to grant driver's licenses to illegal immigrants and a plot by his aides to smear his main Republican nemesis. The prostitution scandal, some said, was too much to overcome.
Freshman Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand became the first Democratic member of New York's congressional delegation to mention resignation on Tuesday. "This is very grave and sad news," she said. "If these serious allegations are true, the governor will have no choice but to resign."