See, if only Eliot Spitzer had been around, none of this would have happened, right?
Wrong, so wrong. It isn't Spitzer's proclivity for thousand-dollar trysts with a barely legal escort/singer that bugs me. Prostitution probably should be decriminalized, regulated and taxed, as should Internet gambling and marijuana smoking (as we discussed last night on CNBC Reports).
Instead, the offense here is that Spitzer has the temerity—and that we in the media give him the opportunity—to resurface and reclaim his preachy mantel. This, despite his past proclivity for using questionable legal tactics, getting dubious results and hogging the TV cameras to serve his real purpose: promoting himself.
As New York state’s attorney general, he had us believe he was above reproach. As he graced magazine covers as the self-proclaimed Sheriff of Wall Street, he prosecuted prostitution rings while consorting with prostitutes. He threatened Wall Street firms with criminal indictment unless they fired their CEOs and copped to civil charges—a clear violation of the canon of ethics. Afterward, he took campaign donations from defense lawyers who had just settled a big case with him.
Spitzer also had his agents investigate the private lives of the men he hoped to bring down. Hello, Mr. Kettle? And he ranted against decades-old practices on Wall Street as if he were born yesterday. He was “shocked!, shocked!” to learn that investment banks employed research analysts to tout the stocks the firm took public.
All of it had one purpose: Spitzer wanted to be governor. He cared more about grabbing headlines than imposing real reforms. His research-analyst settlement resulted in less stock coverage for investors, not more. And nothing this guy tried to do to Wall Street did anything to stop all the carnage that would come later.
And now, he’s baaaaaaack. What’s next—a financial advice column from imprisoned ponzi prince Bernard Madoff? It made me want to spit when Spitzer spoke on CNBC yesterday, decrying Wall Street and any regulator but himself. He preened like a peacock, puffing out his chest and ruffling his feathers.
Message to Mr. Spitzer: Go pluck yourself.
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