It appears that among the many celebrity victims of Wall Street fraudster Bernie Madoff is former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer. Spitzer resigned earlier this year following revelations that he was using laundered funds to pay for his multiple socks-on inter-state sexual encounters with high-priced prostitutes in New York and Washington. Spitzer acknowledged recently that his family’s real estate firm had lost an unspecified amount of money as a result of investments with a Madoff subsidiary. The revelation came during a press bash thrown by Slate.com, the online news and commentary site that threw the disgraced Spitzer a lifeline back into the public policy arena via a regular column.
Since he seems determined to regain a place in the national spotlight, it is worth recalling that there were far more serious ethical issues surrounding Spitzer long before America learned of his rendezvous with Ashley Alexander Dupre at Washington, D.C.’s Mayflower Hotel. While he was New York Attorney General, Spitzer was responsible for policing New York’s estimated 60,000 charities and nonprofits, including his family’s $26 million Spitzer Charitable Trust. Most of those assets were invested in hedge and equity funds whose executives made numerous campaign contributions to Spitzer, according to Matthew Vadum of the Capital Research Center. Spitzer did not recuse himself from investment decisions by the board of his family trust even though a state ethics panel had ruled that top state officials should not serve as directors or board members of regulated agencies.
And let us not forget the $42,555 Spitzer received in campaign contributions from lawyers with the now-disgraced Milberg Weiss law firm in his successful 2002 re-election as Attorney General. As first reported by The Examiner in 2007, among those donations were $10,000 from Mel Weiss and $10,000 from former managing partner David Bershad. Weiss is now serving a federal prison term – along with another former senior Milberg Wess partner, William Lerach – after confessing to participating in kickbacks totaling $11.7 million to plaintiffs in more than 150 securities class-action lawsuits brought by the firm in a conspiracy that began in 1981.
In looking at the rather longish list of misdeeds.. and those being merely the ones we know of, it seems to me that what he got out of the reports of sexual misdeeds was far less punishment than he might have gotten out of a conviction on any of the counts listed above. All of that says nothing of the added embarrassment for Democrats such charges alone against Spitzer would have brought, much less the convictions for those charges.
It’s not much of a stretch to ask if his withdrawal from office under the cloud of a sex scandal wasn’t arranged by either himself or some other Democrat or Democrats to avoid these larger issues for himself and the party. If they were looking for some way of avoiding these larger issues, they couldn’t have found a better way.
Consider, too, that Spitzer’s addiction was one of the worst kept secrets in politics. Why move exactly when they did, against him?
That question takes on added weight when one considers the timing other events running concurrently to the revelation of the scandal; Right on the cusp of a presidential election, during which any hint of scandal would have made for serious problems, particularly in getting a Democrat into the White House. After all, Spitzer was supposedly one of their shining lights. Douse the fire, get him out of the way.
That would seem to be confirmed by the lack of action against Rangel, William Jefferson, etc etc etc until AFTER the election; it fits the pattern of a close scandal management rather well; Almost Clintonesque in it’s slickness.