Spitzer resigns effective Monday

Lt. Gov. Patterson would be sworn in as Governor
March 13, 2008 3:54:25 AM PDT
Eliot Spitzer has resigned as New York's governor, effective Monday. To read the text from Spitzer's resignation statement, Click Here.

The announcement marked a stunning fall from power for Spitzer, disgraced by news linking him to a high-priced prostitution ring.

He announced his resignation from his New York City office just after 11:30 a.m. He will be replaced by Lt. Gov. David Paterson, who will become New York's first black governor. To read more about Lt. Gov. Paterson, Click Here.

"I cannot allow for my private failings to disrupt the people's work," he said, with his wife at his side. He added "I go forward with the belief as others have said that as human beings our greatest glory consists not in never falling but in rising every time we fall."

Lt. Gov. Paterson released the following statement: "Like all New Yorkers I am saddened by what we have learned over the past several days. On a personal level Governor Spitzer and Silda have been close and steadfast friends. As an elected official the Governor has worked hard for the people of New York. My heart goes out to him and to his family at this difficult and painful time. I ask all New Yorkers to join Michelle and me in prayer for them. It is now time for Albany to get back to work as the people of this state expect from us."

The scandal hit Monday, with the first word of allegations that Spitzer, a 48-year-old married man with three teenage daughters, spent thousands of dollars on a call girl the night before Valentine's Day.

"I look at my time as governor with a sense of what might have been," Spitzer said, with his expressionless wife Silda standing at his side. "There is much more to be done, and I cannot allow my private failings to disrupt the people's work."

Spitzer and his wife left their apartment around 11 a.m. and got into a black SUV to take them to his office. Cameras aboard news helicopters tracked the movement of Spitzer's three-vehicle motorcade from his apartment on the Upper East Side to his office in midtown Manhattan.

The announcement followed two days of furious activity. 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.

Attending the news conference with Spitzer were his close advisers and lawyers, including Ted Wells, a prominent attorney who recently represented I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Immediately, the calls came for him to step down and Republicans threatened to start impeachment proceedings if he didn't do it by tonight.

Spitzer, meantime, had been holed up in his Manhattan apartment. Reports suggested he was weighing his options and might try to use his resignation as a bargaining chip with federal prosecutors to try to stay out of jail. However the following statement was released in regards to that speculation. "There is no agreement between this Office and Governor Eliot Spitzer, relating to his resignation or any other matter," said Michael J. Garcia, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Eyewitness News is told that Spitzer's own bankers got the investigation started, when they reported large, frequent cash transfers from several accounts. They told the Internal Revenue Service, and the accounts were traced back to Spitzer, leading public corruption investigators to open an inquiry.

A law enforcement official told the Associated Press Spitzer 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.

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.

Spitzer, a first-term Democrat, built his political reputation as a crusader against shady practices. He rooted out government corruption, cracked down on big compensation packages for business leaders and made many high profile prostitution busts.

A graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law, he was sometimes mentioned as a potential candidate for president.

Spitzer didn't just win the governor's office: He took it with an historic margin of victory on Jan. 1, 2007, and went into office vowing to stamp out corruption in New York government in the same way that he took on Wall Street executives as state attorney general.

But his time in Albany 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.

Spitzer is the first New York governor to leave office in scandal since William Sulzer, who was impeached and removed in 1913 over campaign records.

Barely known outside of his Harlem political base, Paterson, the 53-year-old incoming governor, has been in New York government since his election to the state Senate in 1985. He led the Democratic caucus in the Senate before running with Spitzer.