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Spitzer could face criminal charges

Ed Pilkington

— Photo: AP

THE SUCCESSOR: New York Lt. Gov. David Paterson (left) with Eliot Spitzer in this file photo. The visually impaired Mr. Paterson, who will take over on Monday, will be the State’s 55th Governor, making him the first black chief executive.

New York: Eliot Spitzer was on Wednesday cast into the wilderness after he resigned as Governor of New York in the wake of a prostitution scandal that destroyed his reputation as the scourge of organised crime and immorality.

With new details emerging almost by the hour about the extent of his involvement with sex workers, his departure was only a matter of time. The most damning headline was that he had spent up to $80,000 on sex in the past 10 years — an allegation that would imply he was partaking of such services even as he fought high-profile battles to smash prostitution rings as the State’s district attorney.

“Over the course of my public life I have insisted, I believe rightly, that people take responsibility for their conduct. I can and will ask no less of myself,” Mr. Spitzer said.

Joe Bruno, leader of the Republicans in the State Senate and one of Mr. Spitzer’s most vociferous political enemies, gave a cutting eulogy. “He must deal with his own problems in his own way, but it is now time for all New Yorkers to move forward.”

The big question now is whether Mr. Spitzer will be prosecuted for his liaisons, which were organised by a New Jersey-based sex club. Prosecutors said on Wednesday that no deal had been made.

Agents from the tax authorities and the FBI have investigated at least nine liaisons involving the Governor arranged by the New Jersey-based Club in the past 18 months, but it now seems clear that his use of sex workers began much earlier than that. Legally, he faces possible prosecution under federal laws relating to transporting women across States for “immoral acts,” and for financial violations he may have committed as he moved money around in an attempt to avoid detection.

His legal problems may explain why the official handover of power in Albany will wait until Monday, although Mr. Spitzer implied the delay was at the request of his number two, the State’s lieutenant governor, David Paterson, who will take over the position.

A 53-year-old Democrat from Harlem, Mr. Paterson will be the first visually challenged Governor, and only the fourth African-American in such a post. — ©Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2008

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