Spitzer Shocker: Governor Apologizes after Link to Prostitution Ring

Behind The News
March 10, 2008 1:19:57 PM PDT
"I do not believe that politics in the long run is about individuals. It is about ideas..."Those words this afternoon from Eliot Spitzer, the New York Governor, as he apologized to his family and to the public for his apparent link to a high-priced prostitution ring, that was busted last week.

He's only partly right. Yes, politics is about ideas. But it is also very much about individuals. Individuals are elected.

Spitzer did not resign, although we've been told he plans to.

It's sad, mostly. A promising career -- a man who, despite a tumultuous first year, seems to have had an outward change of heart and strategy. Now that career -- and perhaps more - are in jeopardy.

If he resigns, Lt. Gov. David Paterson will take over and serve the remainder of Spitzer's term.

Spitzer, with his wife by his side, said at a brief news conference he would not take questions. And who can blame him? Mostly because what would the answers be? He is apparently the target of a federal investigation into the prostitution ring, and to answer questions would be to risk not just his political future but perhaps his freedom as well.

This would be the third Governor in our area to resign in recent years. Connecticut Governor John Rowland resigned in 2004 during a corruption investigation. And New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey resigned the same year after he revealed he had an extra marital affair with a man.

But for Spitzer the scandal is most surprising. He had built a career on being the super-clean official -- first as Attorney General and then as Governor. But his enemies on Wall Street have long maintained that he has a double standard and they charged that he doesn't always play by the rules.

We did dig up this quote from a press release from Spitzer's office after a prostitution bust in 2004: "This was a sophisticated and lucrative operation with a multi-tiered management structure," Spitzer said at the time. "It was, however, nothing more than a prostitution ring, and now its owners and operators will be held accountable."

Now it's Spitzer who may be held accountable. His name surfaced - he was apparently "Client 9" in the federal documents - -through a federal wiretap, perhaps text messages.

We are following developments - and they are happening quickly -- and we'll have the latest tonight at 11.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night -- although it's hard to imagine another story topping the Spitzer story tonight -- along with Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.