Tough time for Eliot Spitzer’s family. Good time for newspaper headline writers.
The following links go to .pdf files of newspaper front pages. Courtesy the Freedom Forum, which has a story on newspaper coverage of the Spitzer scandal.
The Wall Street Journal, well versed in Spitzer’s predations, sums up the sentiments here in its lead editorial, “Spitzer’s Rise and Fall.”
In our system, citizens agree to invest one of their own with the power of public prosecution. We call this a public trust. The ability to bring the full weight of state power against private individuals or entities has been recognized since the Magna Carta as a power with limits. At nearly every turn, Eliot Spitzer has refused to admit that he was subject to those limits.
The stupendously deluded belief that the sitting Governor of New York could purchase the services of prostitutes was merely the last act of a man unable to admit either the existence of, or need for, limits. At the least, he put himself at risk of blackmail, and in turn the possible distortion of his public duties. Mr. Spitzer’s recklessness with the state’s highest elected office, though, is of a piece with his consistent excesses as Attorney General from 1999 to 2006.
He routinely used the extraordinary threat of indicting entire firms, a financial death sentence, to force the dismissal of executives, such as AIG’s Maurice “Hank” Greenberg. He routinely leaked to the press emails obtained with subpoena power to build public animosity against companies and executives. In the case of Mr. Greenberg, he went on national television to accuse the AIG founder of “illegal” behavior. Within the confines of the law itself, though, he never indicted Mr. Greenberg. Nor did he apologize.
Excerpts from past WSJ editorials, columns.
UPDATE (11:25 a.m.): Walter Olson examines the “structuring” offense that prosecutors may be focusing on, working up the financial transactions in a way to evade bank reporting requirements or other scrutiny.
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