Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Frankly, I don't care much about Spitzer. He's not my governor and wasn't making a play for any office that I would vote for - yet. It turns out that the man was caught not because he was involved in prostitution, but because the IRS noticed financial transactions that were suspicious and might have indicated some sort of bribery or blackmail or some such. From this NY Times story:

There, in the Hauppauge offices of the Internal Revenue Service, investigators conducting a routine examination of suspicious financial transactions reported to them by banks found several unusual movements of cash involving the governor of New York, several officials said.

The investigators working out of the three-story office building, which faces Veterans Highway, typically review such reports, the officials said. But this was not typical: transactions by a governor who appeared to be trying to conceal the source, destination or purpose of the movement of thousands of dollars in cash, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The money ended up in the bank accounts of what appeared to be shell companies, corporations that essentially had no real business.

The transactions, officials said, suggested possible financial crimes — maybe bribery, political corruption, or something inappropriate involving campaign finance. Prostitution, they said, was the furthest thing from the minds of the investigators.

Soon, the I.R.S. agents, from the agency’s Criminal Investigation Division, were working with F.B.I. agents and federal prosecutors from Manhattan who specialize in political corruption.

I am rather unforgiving of the sanctimonious who get caught in hypocrisy. In my view, prostitution should be legalized and regulated as it’s a losing battle. Much like the so-called drug war, the criminal element is attracted to it in part due to big rewards which are inflated thanks to it’s criminalization.

Spitzer prosecuted those laws and even sounded outraged at the people who ran and used prostitution rings. Now he’s caught using them himself. On top of it, as the Times notes, he’s caught possibly flouting financial laws of the sort he used to prosecute Wall Street types for flouting. Indeed, he built his career on that.

So, the man gets caught in a double hypocrisy. I don’t feel sorry for him any more than I feel sorry for Craig or Vitter.


Scott said...

There is an aspect of this case which disturbs me. It is satisfying to see a hypocrite hoist on his own hubristic petard, especially for a ridiculous crime.

The method bothers me. Datamining domestic intelligence was supposed to be for catching terrorists, and this already well down the slippery slope.

Most trouble of all, I don't expect this will get any media attention at all.

B.D. said...

I agree, Scott. In my perfect world, this sort of bank transaction would never have been noticed and prostitution would be legalized and regulated. Spitzer's money is his own. He's a wealthy man and as long as he pays his taxes and keeps his nose clean, I really don't care how he moves it or spends it.

On the other paw, he was brought down using laws that are very similar to the ones he prosecuted. Not just the prostitution laws, but also financial laws. In my perfect world, of course, those laws wouldn't exist in their current form so Spitzer wouldn't have been prosecuted, but neither would he have had the same platform to use to rise to political power.