Posted March 11, 2008 – If Eliot Spitzer, the tough-as-nails former prosecutor who made a living busting prostitutes, resigns under the weight of his own hooker scandal, New York would have its first African-American governor and the nation’s first blind state chief.
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The victim of an FBI wiretap, Spitzer was nabbed arranging to hook up with a high-priced hooker at a Washington , D.C. , hotel last month, triggering an embarrassing episode for the man known as an ardent crime fighter and protector of the public. “I have acted in a way that violates my obligation to my family and violates my or any sense of right or wrong,” said Mr. Spitzer, who appeared with his wife, Silda, at his Manhattan office. “I apologize first and most importantly to my family. I apologize to the public to whom I promised better. I have disappointed and failed to live up to the standard I expected of myself. I must now dedicate some time to regain the trust of my family.”
Suddenly, the spotlight is cast on David Paterson, who is poised to become only the third African-American governor since Reconstruction – behind L. Douglas Wilder in Virginia and Deval Patrick in Massachusetts . "He's the next governor and probably quite soon," Maurice Carroll, director of Quinnipiac University's Polling Institute and a longtime New York political reporter, told The Associated Press. If Spitzer steps down, as is widely speculated, Paterson, who entered the race reluctantly two years ago, automatically steps in and would finish out Spitzer's term, which ends Dec. 31, 2010. The 53-year-old Harlem Democrat is blind.
Spitzer rose to national prominence during his reign as attorney general as he doggedly pursued wrongdoers on Wall Street. But the thing that is haunting him most today, as he battles charges that he paid $4,300 for a New York call girl to meet him in D.C., is the way he attracted the spotlights when he prosecuted at least two prostitution rings while heading up New York ’s organized crime task force. There appeared to be nothing he detested more than prostitution. “This was a sophisticated and lucrative operation with a multi-tiered management structure,” Spitzer said in 2004 after boasting about the arrest of 16 people for operating a high-end prostitution ring out of Staten Island . “It was, however, nothing more than a prostitution ring.”
Spitzer has declined to take reporters’ questions, calling his current predicament a “private matter.”
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