More questions about Spitzer and call-girl ring

Officials looking into what may have been spent
March 12, 2008 3:30:51 AM PDT
There's pressure mounting on him to resign, and now word that Eliot Spitzer may have spent tens of thousands of dollars - perhaps as much as $80,000 - with a high-priced prostitution service.When the scandal broke, prosecutors said in court papers Spitzer had been caught on a wiretap spending $4,300 with the Emperors Club VIP call-girl service. The papers also suggested that Spitzer had done this before. Now, speaking on condition of anonymity, a law enforcement official told the Associated Press Tuesday that Spitzer, in fact, had spent tens of thousands of dollars with the Emperors Club. Another official said the amount could be as high as $80,000. But it was not clear over what period of time that was spent.

Spitzer and his family, meanwhile, remained secluded in their Fifth Avenue apartment, while Republicans began talking impeachment. Few if any fellow Democrats came forward to defend him.

Insiders said Tuesday the governor was still trying to decide how to proceed. Options included quitting immediately, or waiting to use resignation as a bargaining chip with federal prosecutors to avoid indictment.

Democrats privately floated another option, telling The Associated Press that Spitzer was considering what was almost unthinkable immediately after Monday's bombshell apology: hanging on. Sources have told Eyewitness News, though, it is not a matter of if the governor will resign but when.

Spitzer's many enemies from Albany and Wall Street were emboldened, and some of his friends went from shock to outrage Tuesday.

"Particularly because of the reform platform on which he was elected governor, his ability to govern the state of New York and execute his duties as governor have been irreparably damaged," said Citizens Union, a good-government group that supported the crusading attorney general for governor in 2006 and provided critical support in his effort to reform Albany. "It is our strong belief that it is now impossible for him to fulfill his responsibilities as governor. Accordingly, Citizens Union urges him to resign as governor."

The governor has not been charged, and prosecutors would not comment on the case Tuesday. The governor has retained a large New York City law firm. Michele Hirshman, Spitzer's former deputy attorney general, is representing the governor, said Madelaine Miller, spokeswoman for the Manhattan law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind Wharton & Garrison. She would not comment further on Tuesday.

In Albany, Democratic Lt. Gov. David Paterson, who would become governor if Spitzer resigned, was talking to legislative leaders about a possible transition.

On Wall Street, where Spitzer built his reputation as a crusader against shady practices and overly generous compensation, cheers and laughter erupted Monday from the trading floor when news broke of his potential ruin. Many in the financial industry had long complained that the man known as "Mr. Clean" and the "Sheriff of Wall Street" was a sanctimonious bully who was just trying to advance his political career.

"The irony and the hypocrisy is almost too good to be true," said Bryn Dolan, a fundraiser who works with many Wall Street employees. "If he had any shame, he would've already resigned."