Thursday, March 13, 2008

Spitzer: A list of possible charges

Until two days ago NY Governor Eliot Spitzer was one of the most powerful liberal Democrats and often spoken of as a future presidential nominee. Today reporter Don Dahler lays out criminal charges he may face, after which I offer a few comments below the star line.

Now Dahler - - -

Eliot Spitzer's resignation Wednesday spares him and the state the spectacle of an impeachment, but what about an indictment?

It was a rare and unequivocal declaration by U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia: "There is no agreement between this office and Gov. Eliot Spitzer, relating to his resignation or any other matter."

And in Spitzer's own words:

"Over the course of my public life, I've insisted, I think correctly, that people regardless of their position or power take responsibility for their conduct."

But what conduct? And what form will that responsibility take? Legal observers say there's a good chance the governor will be indicted.

"To move funds from one place to the other, to hide the source of the money … it's still going to be money laundering," said John Jay College School of Criminology professor Joseph King.

Experts say "Client 9" could face the following charges:

* Money laundering for trying to conceal the source and recipient of financial transactions.

* Tax evasion, if he was a knowing party to an all-cash business that wasn't filing taxes.

* Violation of the Mann Act for paying for the trip from New York to D.C. by the call girl known as "Kristen."

* Misuse of state resources, if he used his state-issued credit card for hotels or meals with prostitutes as well as if he was being protected by State Troopers during his dalliances.

* And finally, soliciting prostitution.

There's also the question of whether Spitzer used campaign funds for these trysts, which opens up a whole other litany of charges from fraud to federal election violations.

Court documents and published reports indicate perhaps as much as $80,000 were transferred from Spitzer's account to a trio of dummy companies that were fronts for the escort service.

North Fork Bank reportedly grew suspicious when the governor asked that his name be taken off the latest transactions.

The prostitution charge carries the least severe possible sentence. Ironically, one of the first bills Spitzer signed into law raised the penalties for Johns, the men who patronize prostitutes, from a maximum of three months, to now up to a year in jail. Money laundering has a maximum of 20 years.



A repeat from yesterday's comments I bet almost all of us agree on: It’s too soon for the feds to cut a deal with Spitzer.

The feds won’t know enough to weigh what a deal should include until they know as much as can be learned about crimes he may have committed while in office and perhaps before.

It very likely what we’ve learned so far is just the tip of the iceberg.

In any case, the need for a thorough investigation by federal authorities with the power to subpoena records and compel testimony is obvious and urgent.

A deal now would smack more of a cover-up than a resolution.

Spitzer’s fellow liberal Democrats, including the NY Times editorial board and NY’s Sens. Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer, should be demanding a “no stone unturned” federal investigation of Spitzer’s conduct.

The silence of liberals regarding an investigation of Spitzer’s conduct is a sad but not very surprising contrast to their demands for an investigation into who “outed” Valerie Plame.

You remember Valeria Plame: the “undercover CIA agent” who lived in DC and for more than 5 years commuted by car to CIA headquarters in Langley, VA.

A number of you have made excellent comments regarding the Spitzer scandal. Thanks.

Later today I plan to look around the blogosphere to find bloggers who are all over the scandal. I suspect some of you have already found some. Mention them on the comment thread. I’ll be sure to take a look.

BTW – Reporter Don Dahler was the first tv reporter to report live from the WTC on 9/11. He’s got a very impressive professional background you can read more about here.


Anonymous said...

Spitzer may be a boor, a bully, a hypocrite, a complete idiot and a criminal but he sure has good taste. Have you seen a picture of "Kristen"? Wowza!!

Anonymous said...

John: There is an interesting column in the Wall Street Journal by Kimberley A. Strossel in which Spitzer is described in terms reminiscent of our old "friend" Nifong. Both abused their authority and both were obliged to fall on their swords. I don't have a reference or a date, but I believe it was printed within the last few days.
Tarheel Hawkeye

JWM said...

Dear Anon @ 12:12 pm,


But I'm not surprised. Spitzer always struck me as a guy who wanted nothing but "the best" for himself.


Anonymous said...

I'm wondering if there were any sparklers used during the meeting. We may have just another SWAS here.

Anonymous said...

Thanks John

While I do not agree with all the laws that he could be charged for, I will overlook them this one time!

As for the "wowza", that's a bit much. My friends I've emailed the pic's all agreed she is what we all know she ia and a "gutter guido chick from Jersey" that "needs to hit the gym"!