New York Governor resigns amid sex scandal
New York, March 13, 2008
New York Governor Eliot Spitzer resigned on Wednesday amid a scandal over a $1,000-an-hour prostitute, ending a career built on pugnacious investigations of Wall Street crimes and an image of moral rectitude.
His resignation completed a fast and spectacular downfall for the former New York state chief prosecutor, who become prominent by probing financial crime with a publicity conscious vigor that earned him the nickname Sheriff of Wall Street.
Lt. Gov. David Paterson will replace him next Monday, Spitzer announced in a brief statement that dwelt on his remorse for "private failings" but did not detail what they were. Spitzer, 48, is married with three children.
The Democratic governor had faced intense pressure to resign and impeachment threats from Republicans since The New York Times reported Monday he was caught on a federal wiretap arranging to meet a prostitute in a Washington hotel room.
Court documents in a federal investigation said a repeat customer identified only as "Client 9" paid $4,300 to a pretty and petite prostitute known as "Kristen." The Times, citing unnamed law enforcement sources, said Spitzer was Client 9.
The Times reported on its Web site on Wednesday that "Kristen" was a 22-year-old who had left home in New Jersey at 17, originally hoping for career as a rhythm and blues singer in New York. "I just don't want to be thought of as a monster," the woman told the newspaper.
The Times said she had been born Ashley Youmans but now is known as Ashley Alexandra Dupre, and that she was expected to be a witness in the case against four people charged with operating a prostitution ring called the "Emperor's Club V.I.P." It said she has not been charged.
New York City's tabloids, citing unnamed sources, reported Spitzer spent up to $80,000 on prostitutes and investigators were examining whether he used any state money.
The man who once broke up prostitution rings as the state's attorney general faces possible criminal charges related to his use of a prostitution service.
Amid speculation Spitzer was seeking to reach some kind of a deal to avoid or reduce any criminal liability, a federal prosecutor said on Wednesday no such pact had been reached.
"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. For this reason I am resigning from the office of governor," Spitzer said in a grim-faced appearance at his New York City headquarters, with his wife at his side.
His disgrace was cheered by some financial power brokers who resented what they considered his self-righteous ways. "Wall Street is enjoying he got his comeuppance," said Oppenheimer and Co. chief investment strategist Michael Metz.
As attorney general, Spitzer accused insurance companies of bid rigging, sued the former chief executive of the New York Stock Exchange, Richard Grasso, over his pay package, and hounded investment banks over misleading stock recommendations, leading to a $1.4 billion settlement with 10 of them.
Spitzer made no specific reference to the allegations surrounding him. He had also given no details when he apologized to his family and the public on Monday for what he called a "private matter." -Reuters