NEW YORK (Reuters) - It looked as if Eliot Spitzer had hung up his spurs and six gun when he resigned as governor of New York state a little more than 15 months ago after an embarrassing prostitution scandal. But the man once called the “Sheriff of Wall Street” seems to be back in the saddle again.
On Wednesday night, he starred at an event called “An Intimate Evening with Eliot Spitzer”, hosted by the New York chapter of The Entrepreneurs Organization.
Business owners filled the hall of the Czech Republic consulate here to listen to Spitzer talk economy, local politics, and credibility in a volley and serve of questions and answers moderated by Fox Business News anchor Liz Claman.
Passions ran high as Spitzer, fiery and confident, shot down inevitable queries about his “fall from grace”.
The Democratic governor resigned last March after it was reported that he was a client of a prostitution ring that was under investigation.
When he was New York’s top lawman, Spitzer’s own dogged investigations into cases involving tainted Wall Street research and fraud earned raised his profile and helped him win the governor’s seat.
“I’ve answered these questions before,” he said about the prostitution scandal.
Asked about the “serious credibility issue” that followed the scandal and why people should listen to him now, Spitzer calmly told the audience, “No one has to.”
But people seem to want to.
Spitzer said he consistently turns down a flood of requests to speak publicly.
“He certainly sounded intimately connected to current state and federal issues with strong insightful opinions,” said Hayim Alan Grant, president of Corporate Suites Business Centers and a member of the Entrepreneurs Organization.
“I would not be surprised if he tried a comeback within several years.”
People close to the former attorney general bat down assertions that Spitzer is making a comeback play.
“If he’s seeking office again, he hasn’t told me,” said Lloyd Constantine, a New York attorney and friend of Spitzer.
“He’s not seeking appearances and any appearance he makes doesn’t mean he’s seeking office. It evidences a desire to speak out on issues that he’s extraordinarily knowledgeable about.”
Spitzer, now a columnist for Slate.com, made headlines earlier this year when it was reported that he bought a building in Washington, D.C., blocks from the White House, for $180 million through his father’s real estate company.
A graduate of Princeton and Harvard and quick study of politics, Spitzer rode into New York state’s capitol, Albany, like a conquering hero in 2006, then stunned constituents when he left office.
“I’ve moved on, doing other things. I am a private citizen,” he told the audience Wednesday night.
Still, the businessmen and women there, who have felt the pain of the recession, cheered when Claman referenced a poll that showed New Yorkers would like to have him back in Albany.
But in true political style, Spitzer flashed a smile and sent a mixed message.
“I’ve made no secret of the fact that it’s obviously been difficult and frustrating not to be able to participate in some minimal way,” he said.
A hearty laugh, “We’re not going to Albany,” he said, and it was “Hi Yo Silver, away.”
Reporting by Chavon Sutton; Editing by Toni Reinhold