Friday, March 14, 2008

Paying for it

There are a lot of lessons in the astonishing rise and fall of New York State's governor, Eliot Spitzer. Spitzer resigned this week, just one year after being elected governor, after being heard on a federal wiretap arranging a liaison with a $1,000 an hour prostitute. Spitzer was overwhelmingly elected on a campaign to clean up New York politics after he made his reputation pursuing corruption on Wall Street as the state's attorney general. In fact, many on Wall Street celebrated the news of his downfall. The fact that his duties as attorney general also included prosecuting individuals in the sex trade was incredibly ironic. But for all his promise as a leader, Spitzer fell victim to the same kind of vanities that have ruined the careers of countless powerful men before him, including former President Bill Clinton, who was impeached after lying about his involvement with a White House intern. At least Spitzer, a millionaire many times over, was paying for the sex. And he's likely to keep paying, since he now could face prosecution, the Reuters international news service said, over the way he transferred funds for the liaison to a service called Emperors' Club VIP, which may have been the actual target of the wiretap. According to the New York Times, which broke the story, Spitzer was ensnared after he arranged for an Emperors' Club employee named Ashley Alexandra Dupre to travel from New York to meet him at Washington's exclusive Renaissance Mayflower Hotel. The newspaper said Room 871 was registered in the name of a longtime Spitzer friend and donor, listing the governor's Fifth Avenue address.

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