Open Thread: Spitzer Prostitution Scandal

As most of you no doubt know by now:

Gov. Eliot Spitzer has been caught on a federal wiretap arranging to meet with a high-priced prostitute at a Washington hotel last month, according to a person briefed on the federal investigation.

The wiretap recording, made during an investigation of a prostitution ring called Emperors Club VIP, captured a man identified as Client 9 on a telephone call confirming plans to have a woman travel from New York to Washington, where he had reserved a room. The person briefed on the case identified Mr. Spitzer as Client 9.

The governor learned that he had been implicated in the prostitution probe when a federal official contacted his staff last Friday, according to the person briefed on the case.

The governor informed his top aides Sunday night and this morning of his involvement. He canceled his public events today and scheduled an announcement for this afternoon after inquiries from the Times.

Spitzer’s brief announcement, delivered around 3:15 p.m., expressed remorse for betraying the trust of his family and the public, but did not acknowledge any involvement in prostitution. Nor did the governor immediately resign, as some pundits speculated.

The implications here extend far beyond the livable streets corner of the universe, obviously, but since it’s our beat, consider this an open thread to discuss the potential fallout. Item one: congestion pricing.

  • Mark

    If Sheldon Silver has made up his mind, it might not matter. An optimist might see Silver saying yes with various provisos and concessions. If Silver is against CP, it’s dead. Spitzer presumably won’t change his stand regardless of what happens.

  • This brings up another question: presuming Spitzer does resign, what is David Paterson’s record on livable streets issues?

  • Spud Spudly

    Joe Bruno is lucky to have the enemies that he does.

  • David Patterson gave a speech on the campaign trail about Peak Oil and M. King Hubbert…I think he might be pretty good.

  • Patterson is also legally blind – I bet he doesn’t drive around much…

  • Red

    My worry is that if Spitzer doesn’t immediately resign, the ensuing turmoil will overshadow all other Albany business. It’s hard to see any effective persuasion happening in that climate.

  • jhd

    Sadly, it seems to me that this is the nail in pricing’s coffin.

    Spitzer held the salary increase card, one of the only real trumps out there. With this scandal comes a lot of mess that will bump any discussion of legislators’ salaries (and congestion pricing) off the agenda of Spitzer or Patterson until after 3/31 at least.

    Sad, but that’s politics.

  • Eric

    Well, from a Livable Streets perspective, at least there will be one fewer “effing steamroller” driving the streets of New York.

  • Richard Brodsky

    Darn, I thought I had the “#1 bane of CP” title in the bag!

  • JF

    You mean it wasn’t you that set the Governor up, Mr. Brodsky? In the name of economic justice?

  • Okay, what if Spitzer resigns and Patterson gets caught in scandal too, before he can appoint a new Lieutenant Governor, does that mean that Silver becomes Governor? Would Brodsky become Speaker then?

  • jbird


  • fdr

    Bruno is next in line after Paterson, not Silver.

  • momos

    Re: #6 Red

    You’re absolutely right. Both the budget and congestion pricing had to be negotiated by the end of the month. The negotiating environment was bad enough. Now it’s downright destroyed. Spitzer is weakened if not replaced entirely, while the uproar in Albany will give the Assembly cover to do as it will.

    If there were several months for things to settle it would be difficult enough; with critical deadlines in 3 weeks, forget it.

    This is so tragic. Congestion pricing dies not in a debate over its merits but in the ashes of a Governorship imploding from a sex scandal.

  • s

    This streetsblog commentary is way more informative and insightful than anything that was on the mainstream airwaves last night. Thanks for discussing the implications of Spitzer’s scandal–how it might actually impact us.

  • Here’s a page with excerpts of Paterson’s speech:

    And the most effective and immediate way to establish some kind of impact on our environment is through conservation. Conservation doesn’t mean privatization. It doesn’t mean austerity. It just means doing more with less, not just doing with less.

    We’re asking New York businesses to raise profits by reducing their utility costs, not by reducing their businesses. We’re asking the families in New York to lower their utility bills, not to lower their expectation of a lifestyle. Conservation is good business sense, because if it saves energy; it saves money. Because energy is the new currency.

    We want to make sure that the community action agencies, the not-for-profits and the weatherization organizations, get the proper funding that they will need. So we will use conservation in the short-term. We will implement it to get immediate results, but we want to pursue renewable energy sources as a long-term solution to New York’s energy uses.

    Unfortunately, he didn’t make a connection to the inefficiencies of car-dependent lifestyles.

  • d

    At least the prostitute took Amtrak to DC.

  • Jon

    Hey, jbird,

    Ease off the capslock button, buddy. Bad for the eyes to try and read it.

    At least Spitzer and Clinton weren’t tapping a foot in an airport bathroom stall…

    Telling a whole political affiliation to “go to Hell” is just childish. Shame on you.

  • rhubarbpie

    Paterson is a product of the Harlem Democratic machine. While considered more liberal than Spitzer (he opposes the death penalty, for instance; Spitzer does not), he is not known as an innovative thinker or ambitious law-maker. I doubt he’s thought a lot about any of the questions many of us care about, though I suppose we can hope for the best.

  • Eric

    What Larry Craig did doesn’t really seem to be illegal. Spitzer, on the other hand, appears to have violated a Federal law. He needs to go, now.

    Momos, if congestion pricing fails, it won’t be due to Spitzer’s lawbreaking — it’ll be the fault of Bloomberg’s arrogance and inability to properly sell the plan. I hear from many people — who, like me, believe that CP is critical to the future of NYC — who feel that the Mayor has never made a truly effective pitch for it, either to the voters or Assembly members.

  • A lot of people think that the only way to get a c.p. plan initially passed is with some serious political might or trickery, that voters aren’t willing to think through the issue enough to respond in their own interests. So I wouldn’t say that Bloomberg failing to move that mountain translates to arrogance or poor salesmanship. On the bright side, that mountain will get smaller as pricing shows long term success in other cities. When our subway is falling apart and personal car overuse continues to be a millstone around the city’s neck, the nationalistic rejection of evidence expressed in “New York is not London!” is going to resonate a lot less. People are going to realize (after being hit in the head with debris in a deteriorating station?) that they take transit much more often (or infinitely more often) than they drive into the zone, and that someone else is having the better of them with the status quo. Wait for this moment.

    And for the off chance that the Assembly has grown-ups in it that want to show how quickly they can get back to work and claim hundreds of millions of federal dollars now, c.p. supporters should be ready.

  • Gizler

    Actually, what Larry Craig did was quite illegal. When I have to take a shit in the airport, I want to know I can do it without two old codgers boning in the stall next door. But I agree that Spitzer has to go.

    I was very excited when his governorship started, I thought he would be great for the state. To say this is disappointing is an understatement.

  • I hadn’t known Spitzer lived on the same block as Bloomberg . . . saw the media hoopla there on my way to work this morning . . . including 10 media satellite vans and a helicopter hovering overhead, spewing fumes and blockng traffic.

    The only poential silver lining is potential support for CP from a Bloomberg admnistration in Albany.

    What a huge disappointment.

  • Mark

    How I wish I were an investigative reporter living in Albany. First thing I’d do is take a picture book of everyone in the state legislature, visit every brothel in town, and say “have you seen any of these people around here?” I’m betting regime change in the state legislature would reach at least a level of 5%.

  • Felix

    I have no idea how this will play out, but why not be optimistic? First, this means Bloomberg, a potential governor in 3 years, is a lot more powerful now. Second, there’s no reason to think Paterson won’t want to please the broad coalition of interest groups lined up behind cp, as well as the daily newspapers in the city. He’ll look like a more effective leader if he pushes this through and he’ll get lots of good press.

  • momos

    Re: #20 Eric
    I agree, the major responsibility for CP’s fate lies with Bloomberg and his tepid, unsustained pitch for it. Since Bloomberg has done such an inadequate job, it has fallen to Spitzer to push Silver and the Assembly into passing CP. My point was simply that now that Spitzer is out of the game, CP’s chances have significantly diminished. But your point is very important: if Bloomberg had pushed hard enough in the first place, Spitzer’s problems wouldn’t matter so much. And let’s not let Silver off the hook either.

    Re: #17
    The Albany liaisons surely occur via SUV, but since the Legislature has been talking up high speed rail they must be catching on.

    Re: #19
    Paterson is a very smart guy and is very progressive on environmental issues. He’s a believer in the peak oil theory. Listen to a 25 min interview with him on Northeast Public Radio here:

    Re: #24
    5%? I’ll bet 10.

    Re: #25
    Good point. Paterson would establish himself as a leader in his own right by passing CP or some other “difficult” public policy.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    This is Bloomberg’s pet project, for a while he was content to trot it out and let it sit in his resume. There is some serious agitation going on this month though. Losing Spitzer can help especially if Patterson fears Bloomberg in 2010. If Patterson wins this now he will take it out of Bloomberg’s quiver in the event of a Bloomie run for Gov.

    Regardless, if it goes down now and Bloomberg run for Governor he won’t be able to hide congestion pricing under his tunic like he did in the last Mayoral run. He is out of the closet on this now. So either Patterson sells it or he has to face Bloomberg on this issue next cycle.

  • rhubarbpie

    Re Bloomberg as governor: Be careful what you wish for.

  • Eric

    Momos: You’re probably right about this scandal hurting CP, as it will be used as an excuse by Albany to do nothing. They’ll be able to blame their inaction on Spitzer. But it’s also Bloomberg’s fault for not making a better sell.

    Rhubarbpie: Couldn’t agree more. Bloomberg in Albany is nothing to look forward to.

    Gizler: As far as I can tell, Larry Craig’s “crime” was to tap the foot of the guy in the next stall. I guess you can be arrested for that in Minnesota, but if it were me, I would’ve just told him to f*** off. Imagine if one could get busted for striking up a conversation in a bar — essentially the same thing.

  • SandraOmyOconner

    But did he and his hookers use public transportation or bicycles to get to their trysts?

    If so all can be forgiven hell he is a democrat.

    Re Elect Ted Kennedy. Hell Elect the whole Kennedy family. It’s St Patricks.

  • Luxan King

    I saw Spitzer’s whore’s photo today. Mrs. Spitzer is absolutely gorgeous compared to this bimbo – what was Spitzer looking for? What an idiot. Pray that the four ladies (pretty and intelligent at that) will hold their heads high on their own dignity and let Mr. Spitzer pay his own penalty. May Jehovah God help them all.


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