The federal investigation of a New York prostitution ring was triggered by Gov. Eliot Spitzer's suspicious money transfers, initially leading agents to believe Spitzer was hiding bribes, according to federal officials.I daresay this is one of those infrequent moments in politics when you lean back and exhale. It was only sex (so far).
Many in the opposing camp of NY State Republicans, chief among them the ethics-challenged Joe Bruno, have called on Spitzer to resign.
Eliot. No. Don't do it. There is no legitimate rationale, based on what's been made public thus far, for you to resign and indeed, to resign might hamper New York politics far more than the battles you will face going forward.
You have a short window of opportunity to put this behind you quickly. From all accounts, this was money you spent out of your own pocket, and the time taken away was your own time. There have been no allegations that state police accompanied you to the DC hotel or stood guard over you.
The real damage you have done is to yourself and more, to those whose trust you have earned over these past forty eight years: your family.
You've made a general apology, no doubt on the advice of your attorney, and kept it ambiguous, again, on the advice of your attorney. That attorney is likely in negotiations with Federal prosecutors to swing a deal.
Here's the deal you should swing:
- A blanket but specific apology to the people of New York, to your family and your friends.
- An acknowledgement that you exhibited poor judgement in your personal life.
- A refusal to resign. Personal weakness is no reason to give up what could yet be a great governorship. Promise to double your commitment to the job and more, to your family.
- Personally see to your administration's involvement in the budget negotiations (New York's fiscal year ends March 31). Convene the Council of Three (Senator Majority Leader Bruno, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and yourself) and hammer out the deal. No surrogates. You won't let this distract the state from its business.
This will probably satisfy the DoJ (particularly once Bush is elected out), who are more interested in the money laundering than in counting coup. There is no profit for them in pursuing a two-headed case of prostitution and money laundering. They'd rather focus resources on the real felonious behavior.
One more thing: insist that no charge be levelled against the prostitute in question, the so-called "Kristen". If you walk, she should walk, barring any knowledge of money laundering.
The public humiliation and refocus on your job, particularly in light of your now-dimmed reputation as a stand-up guy, will serve you well.
And make damn sure you remember your wife's birthday this year...