GOP may push for Spitzer's impeachment
(AP) - Pressure mounted Tuesday on Gov. Eliot Spitzer to resign because of a prostitution scandal, with a top state Republican threatening to push for impeachment proceedings if the governor doesn't step down in 48 hours.
State residents "cannot have this hanging over their heads," said Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco.
The scandal erupted Monday, when allegations surfaced that Spitzer, who built his political reputation on rooting out corruption, spent thousands of dollars for a night with a call girl named Kristen at a glitzy Washington hotel. Speaking of condition of anonymity, a law enforcement officialsaid Tuesday that Spitzer, in fact, had spent tens of thousands ofdollars with the Emperors Club. Another official said the amountcould be as high as $80,000. But it was not clear over what periodof time that was spent.
Spitzer, a first-term Democrat, remained hidden from public view Tuesday, and his plans regarding his political future weren't known. Three New York newspapers called for his resignation, and the New York Post called him "NY's naked emperor."
Spitzer hadn't yet decided whether to resign and hadn't set a timetable for a decision, according to two Democratic officials close to Spitzer and the state's lieutenant governor, David Paterson. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the discussions.
Reporters, government workers and the public milled around the state Capitol building Tuesday waiting for any development in the scandal. Whispers of 'What have you heard?' could be heard in nearly every hallway of the ornate, 109-year-old building. News vans lined up around the Capitol's perimeter and camera operators sat next to their tripods on the front lawn waiting for something to do.
To get articles of impeachment to the floor, Tedisco would need support from the Democratic majority in the Assembly. If the measure passed there, it would still need at least two-thirds approval of the combined vote of the Republican-controlled Senate and the nine-member Court of Appeals to proceed to trial.
The case started when banks noticed the frequent cash transfers from several accounts and filed suspicious activity reports with the Internal Revenue Service, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press Tuesday. The accounts were traced back to Spitzer, prompting public corruption investigators to open an inquiry.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.
The inquiry found that Spitzer was a repeat customer with the Emperors Club VIP, a high-end prostitution service, the official said. In an affidavit filed in Manhattan federal court last week, Spitzer appeared as "Client 9," according to another law enforcement official who also spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.
Spitzer allegedly paid for the call girl to take a train from New York to Washington - a move that opened the transaction up to federal prosecution because she crossed state lines. The governor has not been charged, and prosecutors would not comment on the case. A Spitzer spokesman said the governor has retained a large Manhattan law firm.
Client 9 wanted a high-priced prostitute named Kristen to come to Washington on a 5:39 p.m. train from Manhattan Feb. 13. The door to the hotel room would be left ajar. Train tickets, cab fare, room service, and the minibar were all on him.
"Yup, same as in the past. No question about it," the caller told Kristen's boss, when asked if he would make his payment to the same business as usual, a federal affidavit said. The client paid $4,300 to Kristen, touted by the escort service as a "petite, pretty brunette," according to the court papers.
The tryst took place in the Mayflower hotel, where Spitzer rented a second room for the woman under another name, the law enforcement official who spoke to The AP on Tuesday said. Spitzer had to sneak past his State Police detail to get to her room, the official said.
At a news conference Monday, Spitzer appeared glassy-eyed with his shellshocked wife, Silda, and apologized to his family and the public. He did not directly acknowledge any involvement with a prostitute.
"I have acted in a way that violates my obligations to my family and violates my - or any - sense of right and wrong," he said. "I apologize to the public, whom I promised better."
Spitzer, a 48-year-old father of three teenage girls, was elected with a historic margin of victory, and took office Jan. 1, 2007, vowing to stamp out corruption in New York government in the same way that he took on Wall Street executives while state attorney general.
Spitzer's cases as attorney general included a few criminal prosecutions of prostitution rings and tourism involving prostitutes. He also uncovered crooked practices and self-dealing in the stock brokerage and insurance industries and in corporate board rooms; he went after former New York Stock Exchange chairman Richard Grasso over his $187.5 million compensation package.
Spitzer become known as the "Sheriff of Wall Street." Time magazine named him "Crusader of the Year," and the tabloids proclaimed him "Eliot Ness." The square-jawed graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law was sometimes mentioned as a potential presidential candidate.
Spitzer's term as governor has been fraught with problems, including an unpopular plan to grant driver's licenses to illegal immigrants and a plot by his aides to smear his main Republican nemesis.
Tedisco said Tuesday he received a call Monday from Paterson, who automatically becomes governor if Spitzer quits. He would be New York's first black governor.
Tedisco said Paterson raised the possibility of such a scenario by asking if Tedisco, who has been at odds with Spitzer, would be willing to start fresh with him. There was no immediate comment from Paterson's office.
"He called me to ask if we would give him the benefit of the doubt, and go forward," Tedisco said. "I told him we would."
Watch Gov. Spitzer's complete apology statement
Read the complaint that mentions "Client 9"
Profileof Lt. Gov. David Paterson