Spitzer caught in FBI prostitution bust

NY governor, considered one of the most promising US Jewish politicians, apologizes to public, family.

spitzer 224.88 (photo credit: )
spitzer 224.88
(photo credit: )
New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer has apologized to his family and the public, after it was revealed that he had been involved in a prostitution ring - a stunning turn of events for a politician who built his legacy on rooting out corruption. The Democratic governor, considered one of the most promising Jewish politicians in the US, was scheduled to make an announcement late Monday. Officials would not immediately comment on the report, originally published in Monday's The New York Times. Spitzer, 48, told reporters he had "acted in a way that violates my obligations to my family" and said he had to spend time with his wife and three daughters. Spitzer's wife stood at his side, her hands behind her back and her eyes cast downward, as he made the statement. Details about the prostitution connection were not immediately clear. But last week, federal prosecutors in Manhattan filed conspiracy charges against four people, accusing them of running a prostitution ring that charged wealthy clients in Europe and the US thousands of dollars for prostitutes. The Web site of the Emperors Club VIP displays photographs of the prostitutes' bodies, with their faces hidden, along with hourly rates depending on whether the prostitutes were rated with one diamond, the lowest ranking, or seven diamonds, the highest. The most highly ranked prostitutes cost $5,500 an hour, prosecutors said. A law enforcement official told The Associated Press that Spitzer's involvement in a prostitution ring was caught on a federal wiretap. The official said Spitzer was identified in court papers as "Client 9," and the wiretap was part of an investigation that opened in the last few months. The official said the New York governor met last month with at least one woman in a Washington hotel. Prosecutors in the Public Corruption unit of US Attorney Michael Garcia's office were handling the case. Garcia's spokeswoman Yusill Scribner said the office had no comment. Spitzer has built his political legacy on stamping out corruption, including several headline-making battles with Wall Street while serving as attorney-general. He stormed into the governor's office in 2006 with a historic share of the vote, vowing to continue his no-nonsense approach to fixing one of the nation's worst governments. Time magazine had named him "Crusader of the Year" when he was attorney-general. But his stint as governor has been marred by several problems, including an unpopular plan to grant driver's licenses to illegal immigrants and a plot by his aides to smear Spitzer's main Republican nemesis. Spitzer had been expected to testify to the state Public Integrity Commission he had created over his role in the scandal, in which his aides are accused of misusing state police to compile travel records to embarrass Senate Republican leader Joseph Bruno. Spitzer served two terms as attorney-general, in which he pursued criminal and civil cases and cracked down on misconduct and conflicts of interests on Wall Street and in corporate America. He had previously been a prosecutor in the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, handling organized crime and white-collar crime cases. His cases as state attorney-general included a few criminal prosecutions of prostitution rings and tourism involving prostitutes. In 2004, he was part of an investigation of an escort service in New York City that resulted in the arrest of 18 people on charges of promoting prostitution and related charges. In his gubernatorial inaugural address, Spitzer said: "Every policy, every action and every decision we make in this administration will further two overarching objectives: We must transform our government so that it is as ethical and wise as all of New York, and we must rebuild our economy so that it is ready to compete on the global stage in the next century."