Another One Bites the Dust

In one of the more stunning instances of hypocrisy to come out of the political world, it was revealed that anti online gambling crusader Eliot Spitzer was deeply involved with a very upscale prostitution ring. It has been estimated that Spitzer spent in the neighborhood of $80,000 for ‘services’ rendered. Ironically Spitzer made a name for himself fighting organized crime and prostitution rings similar to the one he was involved with.

As New York’s Attorney General he made a national name for himself cleaning up Wall Street, consumer advocacy, environmental protection, and white collar crime. He had a reputation for aggressive prosecutions. In 2002 he bullied several banks involved with online gaming with prosecution. Citibank, one of the largest issuers of credit cards in the US was forced to stop processing transactions related to online gaming.

Spitzer was elected governor of New York in 2006 and stated in his inaugural address “Every policy, every action and every decision we make in this administration will further two overarching objectives: We must transform our government so that it is as ethical and wise as all of New York, and we must rebuild our economy so that it is ready to compete on the global stage in the next century.” Spitzer promised clean government but what the taxpayers of New York got was something quite different.

It all fell apart for Spitzer last week when the New York Times published articles detailing his patronage of the ‘Emperors Club VIP’ an upscale escort service based in New Jersey. It was revealed that Spitzer spent $1,000 an hour for the services of a call girl.

Spitzer’s bank was the chief agent leading to his demise. The good governor tried to conceal transactions totaling more than $10,000 by splitting up the transfers The money was destined for the Emperors Club VIP but the bank reported the suspicious transfers to that beloved agency the IRS which immediately launched an investigation. Spitzer tried to have his name taken off the money transfers but the bank, to their credit, refused. The IRS initially thought Spitzer might be a victim of fraud or extortion and the case was handed to the FBI who discovered the link to the prostitution ring.

Spitzer announced his resignation effective March, 17, 2008 giving the new governor time to make an orderly transition. A statement issued by Spitzer said, “Over the course of my public life, I have insisted, I believe correctly, that people, regardless of their position or power, take responsibility for their conduct. I can and will ask no less of myself,” said Spitzer. “For this reason, I am resigning from the Office of Governor.”

Recently the US public has seen several politicians, many who have proposed legislation regulating private consensual behaviors, fall from grace. Many opponents of online gaming have been caught up in various scandals and ethics violations. Senator Bill Frist, a fervent supporter of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement act chose not to run for re election in 2006 because of ethics violations involving insider trading and Medicare and Medicaid fraud. John Kyl, another supporter of UIGEA took campaign money from the horse racing industry.

All these politicians had something in common, they all presented themselves to the public as ethical virtuous men, and all had serious conflicts between their public actions and their behavior as private citizens. Sometimes you just want to ask; where have all the good guys gone?