|RESIGNED TO DISGRACE
Eliot Spitzer 'Sorry For Private Failings' In Biggest
Scandal In Modern New York Political History
Lt. Gov. David Paterson Will Become State's First Black Governor
CBS News | March 12, 2008
CBS News | March 12, 2008
NEW YORK (CBS) ? Eliot Spitzer's tumultuous tumble from the zenith of a promising political career to the nadir of a shocking sex scandal came as no surprise Wednesday as the bright, bull-headed governor announced his resignation, effective Monday, under bloating pressure from state lawmakers and the public.
Lt. Gov. David Paterson will become the 55th governor of New York and the state's first black governor.
Peering down on an audience of reporters, his advisors, and members of his administration, Spitzer cleared his throat twice, took a deep breath, and shoveled six feet of dirt atop his political career.
His extraordinary demise came after reports Monday that he had been linked to a high-profile prostitution ring busted last week by federal investigators.
"I am deeply sorry that I did not live up to what was expected of me," he said during the 11:45 a.m. announcement. His wife, Silda Wall Spitzer, stood by his side in a similar fashion to his first public comments Monday, appearing tired, uncomfortable, and clearly upset.
"To every New Yorker and to all those who believed in what I tried to stand for, I sincerely apologize," he said. "There is much to be done, and I cannot allow for my private failings to disrupt the people's work."
Once known as "Mr. Clean" for his tenure as an attorney and attorney general, and, ironically, his promise to sweep corruption up and out of Albany, he'll forever be known as "Client 9," which he was referred to in wiretaps of the busted call girl agency, Emperors Club VIP.
Financial transactions showed Spitzer spent thousands on prostitutes through the agency. In a transcript of the wiretap, it appeared that "Client 9" was willing to pay nearly $3,000 for just a few hours last month with call girl "Kristen," and even pay up to $2,000 in advance for future flings.
In all, it's believed Spitzer may have spent up to $80,000 on as many as nine illegal prostitutes, according to various media reports.
There were rumors that the once-heralded Democrat had negotiated a plea deal to avoid jail time in the case, but U.S. Attorney Michael J. Garcia squashed those rumors. "There is no agreement between this Office and Gov. Eliot Spitzer, relating to his resignation or any other matter," he said in a statement to CBS 2.
That leaves Spitzer open to being indicted and facing prison time. While that remains up in the air, what is certain is that Spitzer has left a hideous mark in the annals of New York politics.
"I think it's the end of an era of confrontation, of accusation of moral division, of name calling," N.Y. Assemblyman Richard Brodsky (D-Westchester) told CBS 2.
Though he showed no bit of excitement in seeing his political rival's plight nor did he express what many figure to be delight, Republican Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno acknowledged the state government would move on with business-as-usual immediately.
"There is no pleasure in what is going on in this state in anybody's life, and there shouldn't be because this is serious," Bruno said. "My heart goes out to his wife and family at this time. He must deal with his own problems in his own way, but it is now time for us and all New Yorkers to move forward."
Moving forward means the promotion of Paterson, who, interestingly enough, is legally blind. He issued a statement soon after the resignation became official:
"Like all New Yorkers I am saddened by what we have learned over the past several days. On a personal level Governor Spitzer and Silda have been close and steadfast friends. As an elected official the Governor has worked hard for the people of New York.
"My heart goes out to him and to his family at this difficult and painful time. I ask all New Yorkers to join Michelle and me in prayer for them.
"It is now time for Albany to get back to work as the people of this state expect from us."
Bruno expressed optimism in Paterson's ability to run the state after he is sworn in.
"We are going to partner with the lieutenant governor when he becomes governor to govern. David has always been very open with me, very forthright ... and I look forward to a positive, productive relationship as soon as possible," he said.
Bruno will assume the duties of lieutenant governor, according to the New York Constitution.
As for Spitzer, aside from resolving his legal issues, he now faces the formidable task of earning back the respect of his family and others close to him, which he says he'll do through a time of healing.
"In the past few days I have begun to atone for my private failings with my wife, my children, my entire family. The remorse I feel will always be with me," he said.
"I go forward with the belief, as others have said, that as human beings our greatest glory consists not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall."
For Spitzer, that will likely be one toe at a time.