(Adds details, background)
By Daniel Trotta
NEW YORK, March 12 New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer
resigned on Wednesday amid a scandal over a $1,000-an-hour
prostitute, ending a career built on pugnacious investigations
of Wall Street crimes and an image of moral rectitude.
His resignation completed a fast and spectacular downfall
for the former New York state chief prosecutor who rose to
prominence by probing financial crime with a
publicity-conscious vigor that earned him the nickname Sheriff
of Wall Street.
Lt. Gov. David Paterson will replace him next Monday,
Spitzer announced in a brief statement that dwelt on his
remorse for "private failings" but did not detail what they
were. Spitzer, 48, is married with three children.
Spitzer, a Democrat, had faced intense pressure to resign
and impeachment threats from Republicans since Monday, when The
New York Times reported he was caught on a federal wiretap
arranging to meet a prostitute in a Washington hotel room.
Court documents in a federal investigation said a repeat
customer identified only as "Client 9" paid $4,300 to a pretty
and petite prostitute known as "Kristen." The Times, citing
unnamed law enforcement sources, said Spitzer was Client 9.
New York City's tabloids, citing unnamed sources, reported
that Spitzer spent up to $80,000 on prostitutes and that
investigators were examining whether he used any state money.
The man who once broke up prostitution rings as the state's
attorney general faces possible criminal charges related to his
use of a prostitution service.
Amid speculation Spitzer was seeking to reach some kind of
a deal to avoid or reduce any criminal liability, a federal
prosecutor said on Wednesday that no such pact had been
"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. For this reason I am resigning from the
office of governor," Spitzer said in a grim-faced appearance at
his New York City headquarters, with his wife at his side.
His disgrace was cheered by some financial power brokers
who resented what they considered his heavy-handed and
"Wall Street is enjoying he got his comeuppance," said
Michael Metz, chief investment strategist at Oppenheimer and
While attorney general, Spitzer accused insurance companies
of bid rigging, sued the former chief executive of the New York
Stock Exchange, Richard Grasso, over his pay package, and
hounded investment banks for publishing misleading stock
recommendations, leading to a $1.4 billion settlement with 10
Spitzer made no specific reference to the allegations
surrounding him. He had also given no details when he
apologized to his family and the public on Monday for what he
called a "private matter."
Between the two appearances he shuttered himself inside his
New York City apartment as pressure grew for him to quit and
reporters massed outside.
"He was an icon, a model of integrity, an enforcer of
public and private morality, and then you've got this utter
hypocrisy," said Douglas Muzzio, professor of political science
at Baruch College in New York.
"You can't help but be disillusioned."
FALL FROM GRACE
Spitzer became governor with nearly 70 percent of the vote
in November 2006 on pledges to clean up state politics. But 70
percent of New York voters wanted him to quit, according to a
WNBC/Marist poll conducted on Tuesday.
His resignation helped resolve the political paralysis that
has gripped the state capital, Albany, over past two days.
Paterson will become New York's first black governor and the
first legally blind governor in U.S. history.
Although prostitution is illegal in most U.S. states, legal
experts said Spitzer was unlikely to face charges as a client
but could be legally vulnerable over payment methods.
The Times reported that federal authorities were first
alerted to the case by a bank that reported its suspicions
about the way Spitzer was transferring money.
(Additional reporting by Emily Chasan, Caroline
Valetkevitch, Vivianne Rodriguez, Christine Kearney, Joan
Gralla and Edith Honan; Editing by Frances Kerry)