Eliot Spitzer's Comeback Is More Scary Than Tawdry
Klein, Philip, Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The
Eliot Spitzer is lucky that newspapers exposed his yen for high- priced Washington hookers.
The sex scandal that ended Spitzer's governorship in 2008 distracted attention from his even more egregious abuses of power. Because his downfall was associated with personal foibles, he now has an opening to regain power, which he will no doubt abuse again.
In 1994, Spitzer launched his political career by cheating and then lying about it. A lawyer and prosecutor without a very public profile, Spitzer had no political experience when he decided to run for New York state attorney general.
But he did have a very rich father. Over the course of two campaigns for AG (the unsuccessful 1994 race and the 1998 victory), Spitzer manipulated campaign finance law and effectively received millions in campaign donations from his real estate mogul father, according to the New York Times, even while publicly denying it.
Once sworn in as AG, Spitzer was able to raise his profile by publicly shaming unpopular targets. When a wave of scandals rocked Wall Street in 2001 through 2003, Spitzer seized the opportunity. His strategy was to attack behavior that seemed improper (even if it wasn't necessarily illegal) and keep leaking embarrassing information to the media until his targets agreed to settle rather than endure more negative publicity.
When Spitzer's targets were willing to stand up to the public shaming campaign and fight him in court, Spitzer's record as a prosecutor was far less impressive. Years before AIG collapsed and sought a federal bailout, a Spitzer lawsuit forced the ouster of chief executive Maurice "Hank" Greenberg, who had spent decades building the company. Eight years later, the suit has gone nowhere. (Among the prominent individuals targeted by Attorney General Spitzer was Washington Examiner owner Phil Anschutz. The case was settled out of court.)
Spitzer also selectively targeted individuals based on their political affiliation. …