by Glenn Greenwald
Mar 10, 2008
(updated below – Update II – Update III)
Regarding all of the breathless moralizing from all sides over the “reprehensible,” outrageous crimes of Eliot Spitzer: are there actually many people left who care if an adult who isn’t their spouse hires prostitutes? Are there really people left who think that doing so should be a crime, that adults who hire other consenting adults for sex should be convicted and go to prison?
Just as was true for moral crusaders David Vitter and Larry Craig, there is unquestionably a healthy chunk of hypocrisy in Spitzer’s case, given that, as Attorney General, he previously prosecuted — quite aggressively and publicly — several citizens for the “crime” of operating an adult prostitution business. That hypocrisy precludes me from having any real personal sympathy for Spitzer, and no reasonable person could defend him from charges of rank hypocrisy. And he should be treated no differently — no better and no worse — than the average citizen whom law enforcement catches hiring prostitutes.
But how can his alleged behavior — paying another adult roughly $1,000 per hour to travel from New York to Washington to meet him for sex — possibly justify resignation, let alone criminal prosecution, conviction and imprisonment? Independent of the issue of his hypocrisy — which is an issue meriting attention and political criticism but not criminal prosecution — what possible business is it of anyone’s, let alone the state’s, what he or anyone else does in their private lives with other consenting adults?
The Spitzer Sex Sting: A Few More Questions
March 10, 2008
It looks like the Bush Justice Department just bagged themselves another Democratic Governor. Here’s the New York Times on the story:
Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who gained national prominence relentlessly pursuing Wall Street wrongdoing, has been caught on a federal wiretap arranging to meet with a high-priced prostitute at a Washington hotel last month, according to a law enforcement official and a person briefed on the investigation. …
On the other hand, ABC News this evening offers a starkly different account of how the investigation got launched. According to ABC, the whole investigation of the prostitution ring itself was triggered by an investigation of Spitzer.
The federal investigation of a New York prostitution ring was triggered by Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s suspicious money transfers, initially leading agents to believe Spitzer was hiding bribes, according to federal officials. It was only months later that the IRS and the FBI determined that Spitzer wasn’t hiding bribes but payments to a company called QAT, what prosecutors say is a prostitution operation operating under the name of the Emperors Club. …
However, there is a second tier of questions that needs to be examined with respect to the Spitzer case. They go to prosecutorial motivation and direction. Note that this prosecution was managed with staffers from the Public Integrity Section at the Department of Justice. This section is now at the center of a major scandal concerning politically directed prosecutions. During the Bush Administration, his Justice Department has opened 5.6 cases against Democrats for every one involving a Republican. Beyond this, a number of the cases seem to have been tied closely to election cycles.