Prostitution Use Forces Spitzer Resignation
March 12, 2008 at 8:50 AM (PT)
In the wake of a bevy of revelations regarding his past relationships with prostitutes, NEW YORK Gov. ELIOT SPITZER has resigned, effective MONDAY, MARCH 17th. Succeeding him will be Lt. Gov. DAVID PATERSON, an African-American who is legally blind.
SPITZER's remarks were brief, and never mentioned the prostitution alligations directly. Said SPITZER, "I am deeply sorry I did not live up to what was expected of me." View SPITZER's resignation here.
CNN reports SPITZER's resignation is contingent on the details of his transition being worked out, aides said. Also, SPITZER's lawyers were in discussions WEDNESDAY with the U.S. attorney's office in NEW YORK, trying to negotiate a plea deal to avoid prosecution, a source with knowledge of the discussions said.
I am deeply sorry I did not live up to what was expected of me.
After reports about SPITZER being a customer in a prostitution ring first surfaced in the NEW YORK TIMES on MONDAY (NET NEWS, 3/10), more and more damaging revelations began to surface. According to THE NEW YORK POST, SPITZER's dalliance with escorts date back 10 years, over which he has allegedly spent upwards of $80,000.
SPITZER's political situation remained in a state of flux YESTERDAY. Some sources told several different media that SPITZER would resign as soon as he got a deal from prosecutors that would limit any charges against him to misdemeanors. Other sources hinted that SPITZER would try to ride out the storm, much like LOUISIANA Rep. DAVID VITTER did when he admitted patronizing a prostitute -- even though Republicans in the NEW YORK Legislature threatened to begin impeachment proceedings as soon as possible.
Facing Mann Act Charges?
NPR reports Federal prosecutors might charge SPITZER under a relatively obscure -- and controversial -- 1910 law that was originally intended to combat forced prostitution and "debauchery." Its official name is the White Slave Traffic Act, but it's better known as the MANN ACT named after its author, Rep. JAMES R. MANN (R-IL).
In recent years, the MANN ACT has been used selectively. But it has not faded into irrelevance. Last week, four people suspected of running THE EMPEROR'S CLUB, the prostitution service that SPITZER allegedly frequented, were charged with violating the MANN ACT, among other crimes including money laundering.
Enacted during a time of great change and "moral panic," the MANN ACT was originally designed to combat forced prostitution. The law, however, has been applied broadly over the years and, critics say, used as a tool of political persecution and even blackmail. In the past century, thousands of people have been prosecuted under the MANN ACT, including celebrities such as CHARLIE CHAPLIN, FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT, CHUCK BERRY and JACK JOHNSON.
Either way, ELIOT SPITZER's fall from grace can be viewed through a lens heavily tinted with irony. The man who spent much of the last decade aggressively going after organized crime, WALL STREET corruption and, yes, prostitution rings -- as well as a heavy-handed attack on payola that brought down innocent and guilty alike through perceptual intimidation, forcing label and radio group accommodation -- was, at the same time, succumbing to his own guilty pleasures.