The Mann Act and Should Spitzer Resign?

Update: The New York Times reports the Attorney General authorized the investigation of Spitzer:

The inquiry, like many such investigations, was a delicate one. Because the focus was a high-ranking government official, prosecutors were required to seek the approval of the United States attorney general to proceed. Once they secured that permission, the investigation moved forward.


The S.D. Florida blog has a post on whether it's right (as opposed to legally permissible) to charge Gov. Eliot Spitzer under the Mann Act (18 USC 2421, 2422 are the possible applicable sections.)

Now, should the feds pursue a simple prostitution case just because the prostitute traveled from state to state? There is nothing to suggest that the prostitute was coerced or was forced into this business (in fact, she was making more per hour than just about every lawyer in town). The original Mann Act of 1910 was really meant to outlaw forced prostitution (and was known as the "White Slave Traffic Act.") Although recent cases have greatly expanded the scope of the Act and the prosecution would be permissible, do you think such a prosecution is appropriate?

Trivia -- The most famous person prosecuted under the Mann Act is probably Charlie Chaplin.

Chaplin was acquitted. I'll add Chuck Berry to the list, although in his case the woman was a minor. [More...]

In Berry's case, the woman was a minor:

In December 1959 following an appearance in El Paso, Berry and his band visited nearby Juarez, Mexico. There he invited a fourteen year old Apache waitress Janice Escalanti from Yuma, Arizona, to work as a hat check girl at his nightclub Berry's Club Bandstand in St. Louis. According to Berry, when he refused her advances she left in a fit of anger. On December 21 Escalanti arrest on a prostitution charge at a local hotel. This incident would lead to Berry being charged with violation of the Mann Act.. This federal statue forbid the transporting a minor across state lines for the purpose of prostitution. Berry was convicted to five years in prison and fined $5,000. An appeal was made based on racial comments made by the presiding judge and a new trial began in October, 1961. Most of the original verdict was upheld and Berry received three years at the Indiana Federal Prison and fined $10,000. Two months later he was transferred to Leavenworth Federal Prison in Kansas. He completed his sentence at the Federal Medical Center in Springfield, Missouri and was released on his birthday October 18, 1963. Chuck Berry was never the same again. He felt he had been hounded by the press and betrayed by the both sides of the legal professional.

Here's more from PBS on the use and abuse of the Mann Act. There's also the story of boxer Jack Johnson.

Let's get real. Gov. Spitzer had trysts with prostitutes. He didn't force anyone into sex. But for the hypocrisy of his being such a holier-than-thou, unyielding prosecutor during his tenure as Attorney General (and before that as a state court prosecutor) would anyone be calling for his head?

If this had happened while he was still Attorney General, New York's top law enforcer, I'd agree the hypocrisy could be enough to call for his resignation. But he's Governor now.

I don't see why Senators like David Vitter and Larry Craig can keep their jobs -- after all, they enact laws -- while Spitzer should have to resign. But for his poor campaign strategy, we could facing the prospect of philanderer Rudy Giuliani as the next President.

There's also the question of whether Spitzer's investigation may have been politically motivated.

Bottom line: I'm not ready to say Spitzer should resign or be charged with a crime. And the Mann Act is overkill. The public has had its day of fun at his expense. He now has to suffer the consequences of hurting and embarrassing his wife and daughters. They are the real victims here, not the public.

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    I have a lot more concern with (5.00 / 0) (#12)
    by oculus on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 01:22:08 AM EST
    McCain's relationship with lobbyists for telecomm companies than I do with Spitzer's consorting with call girls.  

    Spitzer should fight back (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by lily15 on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 02:25:38 AM EST
    This is politically motivated.  And I agree.  If Vitter gets to keep his job...and Rudy suffers no consequences for his adultery while mayor...and whatever else he was up to...this should remain a private matter.  In fact, I am disgusted by the politically motivated aspect of this...especially following the prosecution of Governor Siegelman..and the expose of the evil forces at work.  Spitzer should make this a fight against the underhanded Republicans.  Charging the Mann Act is over charging...this is at most a misdemeanor...like drunk driving...and Spitzer should take this opportunity to expose the politicization of the Department of Justice.  I'd like to believe that the American people, and in particular the citizens of New York...don't really care that much about this transgression...and are sick and tired of the sexual scandals with no victim....especially considering how many really crimes there are to uncover.  Like fraud, and war profiteering and torture...and Scooter Libby. Clearly what Scooter Libby did was worse...

    fight (none / 0) (#41)
    by eric on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 09:34:21 AM EST
    The initial stories played this like he was "caught up" in the investigation.  That's crap.  They were TARGETING him, as is apparent by the seeking of permission from the AG.

    Spitzer can flip this around and use it as an example of how much they -the corrupt moneyed interests- want to take him down.  Why?  Because he is a threat.

    No excuses.  It's a personal failure.  It was wrong.  But the fight against these people must go on.


    Digby asks a very pertinent question: (none / 0) (#44)
    by scribe on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 09:41:31 AM EST
    "Which Attorney General?"

    Digby notes that if, as the NYT article suggests, the probe was going on for some time since last year, there is a distinct possibility of the AG who signed off on this having been:

     Abu Gonzo - who didn't resign until a couple hours immediately before Larry Craig's theretofore unnoticed guilty plea came up on the screen;  or

     Peter Keisler - who was, having previously been a Repug fixer and torture proponent, back from working for the telcos to be the "acting AG" for all the autumn before going back to work for more telecom immunity and such;  or

     Mukasey - who we all identified as a Giuliani plant, partisan and all-around coverer-upper.  Remember, Rudy Cue Ball's gotten a lot of money from folks like those UAE people who pushed a lot of money towards KSM and other AQ hangers-on.  Why no money laundering or structuring investigations of him?  Hmmmm?


    If The Reported Timeline (none / 0) (#45)
    by squeaky on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 09:46:34 AM EST
    Is correct it must be Mukasey.

    IIRC Mukasey didn't become AG (none / 0) (#57)
    by scribe on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:33:57 AM EST
    until December.  Please correct me if I'm wrong.

    That Fits (none / 0) (#68)
    by squeaky on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:51:01 AM EST
    In the timeline.

    3. Mike Garcia is a Chertoff crony. Sources familiar with the investigation say that he sent a prosecution memo to DC two months ago asking for authority to indict a public figure (Spitzer). Which means they had their case made long before the wire tap of February 13. Why did they then include this line from that conversation in the complaint?



    I (none / 0) (#61)
    by tek on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:38:43 AM EST
    really don't like to see Democrats trying to spin this away.  Whether it was a crime or not, or he was targeted or not, Spitzer has committed a very serious mistake.  Would it be okay if he hadn't been the target of a Republican investigation or if he hadn't been caught?  No.

    Americans across the board have to come to terms with the reality that if a person is going to accept a personal trust (marriage vows) or a public trust (political office), or both, then that person must be committed to behavior consistent with the promises made.  

    I feel so much sympathy for his wife and kids.  She looked like she was about to collapse all through the presser.  In our society, I think we've totally lost sight of the personal devastation of these situations and have devolved into apologetics for the man in question if he's in our party.  It's just time to say, this behavior is unacceptable.  If you can't behave, don't run for office.


    But the people lose when a philanderer.... (none / 0) (#79)
    by kdog on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 12:19:49 PM EST
    is automatically excluded from holding office.  Imagine no Tom Jefferson and no JFK.

    GW appears to be faithful to his wife...and he's one of the worst ever.

    The problem with Spitzer is that he broke the law...a stupid law, but one he had no problem enforcing against others.  He should reap what he has sown.


    A Thought Experiment (5.00 / 1) (#72)
    by A DC Wonk on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 11:12:22 AM EST
    That I think Greenwald mentions (citing somebody else, iirc):

    • if two people have sex, and one gets paid, that's prostitution and illegal

    • if two people have sex, and they both get paid, and it's videotaped, and the tape is sold to others, that called adult entertainment and it's not illegal

    Beside the examples .... (none / 0) (#1)
    by Robot Porter on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 12:20:14 AM EST
    you provided it was my understanding that the Mann Act was widely misused.  Often as a means of prosecuting people they couldn't get on anything else.

    thanks, I added a few links to show that (none / 0) (#3)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 12:30:45 AM EST
    you're correct.

    I think pulling out the Mann Act (none / 0) (#2)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 12:25:18 AM EST
    is ridiculous and I don't think - given what I know at this point - that Spitzer should resign.

    The Mann Act (none / 0) (#4)
    by squeaky on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 12:31:42 AM EST
    Should be taken off the books. It is an embarrassment. The whole thing smacks of a DOJ political assassination, even if Spitzer did break the law.

    According to Scott Horton( H/T FoxholeAtheist):

    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.

    I agree (none / 0) (#5)
    by thereyougo on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 12:35:50 AM EST
    These days I'm thinking political, since he went after corpocriminals. And I'm thinking Alabama Gov. Seligman.This Bush admin is just so sleazy and dirty, I am really mad at Nancy Pelosi for not even attempting to impeach them.

    So far it sounds like a simple (although expensive)prostitution case

    Jane Hamsher asks some interesting questions @firedoglake

    I say grit yer teeth Spitzer and stay on. Heck the Mayor of SF was caught sleeping with one of his campaign staff's wife and he got re-elected to a 2nd term.

    The Gavin Newsom (none / 0) (#11)
    by facta non verba on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 01:18:15 AM EST
    incident is much different. He was single at time and the sex was consensual. And Newsom is not holier-than-thou. I live in SF so perhaps I am a little bias but Newsom has accomplished much, universal health care for starters and is addressing the transportation system. Incidentally, he may run for Governor.

    Hypocrisy is hypocrisy. Spitzer should resign.


    Hrmmmm (none / 0) (#16)
    by kredwyn on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 01:51:36 AM EST
    Hypocrisy is saying one thing and doing another.

    I can see that if you're advocating a Family Values platform whilst diddling around with people on the side. Hell...the Republicans have made a mockery of their own family values positions via this behaviour.

    But where is the hypocrisy when it comes to Spitzer? His particular "crusade" has been against the malfeasance of Wall Street's practices...not their family values.


    No (none / 0) (#63)
    by tek on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:41:43 AM EST
    hyposcrisy?  Oh come on!  He framed himself as a champion of ethical behavior.  He took marriage vows.  No hypocrisy?  LOL!

    He framed himself as champion (none / 0) (#71)
    by kredwyn on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 11:02:25 AM EST
    of the little guy against Wall Street's abuses and so on. He was not a champion of bedroom morality.

    As for personal hypocrisy and breaking marriage vows, I'm not sure that's my business now anymore than it is when a non-public servant does the same. It's his...and his family's.

    It's salacious for sure.

    But as someone who has not always followed the straight and narrow when it comes to living, I'm not willing to cast the first or second or third stone. Are you?


    Massive hypocrisy.... (none / 0) (#81)
    by kdog on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 12:21:42 PM EST
    this jerk has been party to untold prosecutions of prostitution charges.

    I'd have a hard time finding a bigger hypocrite.  


    Then you aren't looking... (none / 0) (#83)
    by kredwyn on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 01:01:37 PM EST
    x (none / 0) (#6)
    by CognitiveDissonance on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 12:53:06 AM EST
    Personally, I think more should be found out about why they were investigating him in the first place. The whole thing really looks fishy to me, a little bit like that Democratic governor serving a prison sentence on trumped up charges. Republicans have sex scandals and they keep their jobs. Democrats get forced out in coups, ala what they tried to do to Bill Clinton. I'm not excusing their behavior, as I don't think it's excusable. But I don't like the idea of the government feeling free to dig around in everyone's panty drawer without a really good reason. Particularly when we know that George Bush has been wire-tapping people without warrants for years. Was this part of that program? I really do smell a rat in all this.

    Under the circumstances it could be politics. (none / 0) (#7)
    by magnetics on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 01:05:52 AM EST
    Not wanting to upend the natural order of things, but at this point in time the Bush DOJ is, iMO, guilty until proven innocent.

    Just sayin.'

    Wait... (none / 0) (#8)
    by oldpro on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 01:06:22 AM EST
    I thought the Mann Act dealt with transporting minors across state lines.  Was this girl a minor?  It appears she transported herself altho  I gather she was reimbursed.

    This is entirely suspiciously petty stuff.  When did they start prosecuting the johns?

    only one section of the Mann Act (none / 0) (#9)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 01:11:14 AM EST
    2423, applies to minors.

    What Digby said: (none / 0) (#40)
    by scribe on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 09:33:40 AM EST
    here's a nice, though cursory, collection of cases Digby provides (update II in the post) on the applicability and scope of the Mann Act.

    Do note that they're all Supreme Court cases, therefore the law of the land.


    Mann Act cases (none / 0) (#47)
    by Peter G on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:04:27 AM EST
    Digby's list is cribbed directly off Wikipedia.  Nevertheless, it's accurate.  In particular, note that the prostitute, even if she consents and thus is not a typical "victim," cannot be prosecuted under this law, as interpreted by the Supreme Court in 1932. It used to cover "prostitution, debauchery or other immoral purposes," only covered interstate transportation of a "woman or girl," and was used to prosecute (highly selectively) both fornication and adultery (which the Supremes held in 1917 to be "immoral purposes" even if not commercial in nature).  It was amended (not that long ago) to be gender neutral and only to reach commercial prostitution.  I reiterate what I wrote on another thread -- highly unlikely that even the present DoJ would authorize the prosecution of a customer for "persuading, inducing, or enticing" (18 USC 2422) a prostitute, by the offering or payment of money, to travel for the purpose of engaging in a single act (or a series of isolated acts) of prostitution, as opposed to enticing or persuading her to enter into the business of prostitution in the first place (which I think might be prosecuted).

    NYT editorial does not (none / 0) (#10)
    by oculus on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 01:12:49 AM EST
    call for resignation:

    Who said it does? (none / 0) (#13)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 01:27:53 AM EST
    You are correct, but I'm not aware of anyone saying differently.

    I was just attempting to add info (none / 0) (#73)
    by oculus on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 11:18:05 AM EST
    to the mix, not refute anyone else's comment or your post.

    I think it should be up to New York (none / 0) (#14)
    by dc2008 on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 01:40:06 AM EST
    I tend to think that Spitzer should resign, and that it's okay (for New Yorkers) to politically pressure him to do so, but that he should not be forced out of office legally. I think that Vitter and Craig ought to have stepped down, if only from the hypocrisy of it. But I think the choice of how much pressure to exert should really be made by the people and establishments of the respective states.

    From the description of the Mann Act, that sounds like overkill, and I don't agree with criminalizing this kind of behavior anyway, so I hope there isn't a prosecution. But it's not like Spitzer didn't aggressively use his own prosecutorial powers when he had them.

    I agree... (none / 0) (#15)
    by kredwyn on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 01:47:25 AM EST
    I think that chatter of resignation may be overkill. While I'm not happy with what's happened, I find that the outrage from the GOP side to be overblown.

    That this has happened does not tarnish his actions as a crusader with regards to the misdeeds of Wall Street. It doesn't negate the very real good that Spitzer did for lots of people with regards to his position as Pitbull for the People of NY.

    I don't know what he should do...but I do want to know more about this investigation.

    And if Spitzer is pressured, so should McCain (none / 0) (#18)
    by lily15 on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 02:28:40 AM EST
    Let's drag McCain into this too and expose the difference in treatment. If Spitzer should resign, so should McCain.

    $4100 is under the FEC limit (none / 0) (#19)
    by Ben Masel on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 03:01:58 AM EST
    if divided between the Primary and the General.

    I don't think you have to count the cost of the room ($199 for the cheapest at the Mayflower, up to $409 for the "Club Level.'

    Wrong track, wrong question (none / 0) (#20)
    by Beldar on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 03:03:55 AM EST

    Everything I've read says he was investigated based on his financial transactions -- cash withdrawals -- in response to reports from his bank(s) to the IRS.

    As you've pointed out elsewhere, the Mann Act has been used by federal prosecutors against principals in interstate or international prostitution rings.

    But why do you think they're even considering charging Spitzer, a customer, under the Mann Act?

    Why are you ignoring, at least in this post, the pain-fully obvious possibility that (absent a plea involving his resignation) they are going to charge him, as the ABC News report says, with structuring -- a species of money-laundering -- under 31 U.S.C. § 5324(a)?

    As a former prosecutor of organized crime money-launderers, Spitzer was certainly aware of the $10k+ currency transaction reporting requirements.  He also, at least per all of the press reporting, went to great lengths to deal only in cash, not using Amex or wire transfers.  He appears to have deliberately -- albeit unsuccessfully -- manipulated the system to stay of the feds' financial radar screens, which (as you know, Jeralyn, and Spitzer did too) have been given much more attention post-9/11.

    If he's been deliberately trying to evade the federal regs, that's "structuring" -- a federal crime wholly independent from the underlying prostitution or Mann Act.  It's a crime that is only incidentally related, in fact, to whatever went on with the callgirls.

    Given a prominent state official dealing secretively in large sums of cash, the feds had plenty of reason to run this down.  When they found that there was no evidence of bribery, they -- amazingly to those of you with Bush Derangement Syndrome -- declined to bring or threaten bribery charges.  But left with evidence of another crime sitting in their laps -- much like Fitzgerald was left with evidence of Scooter Libby's perjury after his team had cleared Libby of outing Valerie Plame -- were they supposed to just ignore that?

    Where's the structuring? (5.00 / 0) (#33)
    by Peter G on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 09:09:18 AM EST
    Beldar, As a federal defense atty for 30+ yrs I'd like to think I can see what might be charged in a given situation.  I just don't see probable cause to charge structuring here, much less proof beyond a reasonable doubt -- at least on the limited info we have from that complaint, which admittedly is focused on the evidence supporting a different charge against different people.  What "transaction" or "transactions" in currency do you see as "structured"?  If each tryst costs well under $10,000, and the trysts are purchased as desired one at a time, isn't the cash withdrawal to pay for each one legitimately a separate "transaction"?  Even if you were to aggregate the tryst in DC with the advance payment he is charged with making at the same time as security for the next one (security for the pimp, really, because what #9 proposed to do was pay all the $ to the prostitute, while business as usual was for the customer to wire the pimp's share to "QAT" first and pay the woman the rest in cash, as I understand it), the total was still only $4100 for that "transaction."  
    After all, someone who draws $200/week from their ATM for miscellaneous expenses will draw over $10,000 in cash over the course of the year.  Yet they haven't "structured" any "transaction" of more than $10,000 if the cash is drawn, in good faith, as and when needed.  The Spitzer situation looks analogous to me.  Please explain why/how you see it differently.

    looking in a complaint (none / 0) (#35)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 09:15:14 AM EST
     charging OTHER people for OTHER offenses tells us very little about what evidence might exist as to a different offense by a different person.

      It would also bear noting that the ABC report merely implies that the investigation began by looking into the possibility that Spitzer was engaging structuring or related financial offenses and led to evidence of the prostitution organization. It does not suggest even thast the investigation into spitzer's finances will continue, let alone that he be charged based on evidence thus far developed.


    the new york times says that (none / 0) (#55)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:32:15 AM EST
    the NY US Atty sought and received permission to investigate Spitzer's financial activity after receiving suspicious transaction reports from the bank.

    True - I think Peter G's comment is (none / 0) (#64)
    by scribe on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:43:06 AM EST
    spot on.

    The point is, suppose hypothetically Spitzer was giving himself an allowance of X hundred or thousand a month in cash.  Maybe he spent a couple hundred here and there for whatever, and let the rest lay around in a desk drawer.  Then suppose, hypothetically, he decides to hire a companion and reaches into the desk drawer for enough, maybe even a little more than necessary, for the engagement.  So long as that handful was less than $10k, I don't see a problem.

    Likewise, letting cash lay around the house - not a problem.

    Take the allowance issue a step further.  Suppose he budgeted for himself an allowance of X hundred or thousand a month but, rather than let it lay around in a desk drawer, he drew it out as and when needed.  I don't think that's structuring, either, so long as the transactions were discrete.  And I don't think having a small credit balance is enough to connect the transactions.

    I just don't see the structuring violation.  But, hey, maybe I'm not seeing straight.  Correct me if I'm wrong....


    He sees it as a GOP partisan. QED. (none / 0) (#87)
    by Molly Bloom on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 05:17:39 PM EST
    CREW has issued a press release (none / 0) (#58)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:34:43 AM EST
    calling for Spitzer to be prosecuted under the Mann Act. The papers are reporting it's a possibility. The charges against the Emporers Club defendants include conspiracy to violate the Mann Act.

    That's why its being discussed. Thanks.


    Funny - I thought CREW stood for (none / 0) (#66)
    by scribe on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:49:51 AM EST
    "Citizens for Resposibility and Ethics in Washington" or something similar, the "W" surely standing for "Washington".

    IIRC - they didn't make any similar call for a Mann Act prosecution re Vitter, Guckert/Gannon, the alleged DC Madam and her many alleged DC area clients, Ted Haggard, or anyone else, even though there were (IIRC) state lines crossed in those cases.

    Hmmm.  Strike them from the charity list - "hypocrisy" being the reason.


    Resignation is better for us (none / 0) (#21)
    by miked on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 05:31:24 AM EST
    Spitzer's immediate resignation would be politically advantageous for the Democratic party. This is not the sort of issue that it would be cool to hear alot about over the next 8 months.

    Even many people who believe prostitution should be legalized anyway (like me) find the governor's behavior outrageous. It is practically a guarantee that this prostitution ring has ties to organized crime, leaving him open to blackmail - which is a much more serious matter with an executive official like an attorney general or governor than with a legislator who is one vote among many.

    Also, as attorney general Spitzer was infamous for using obscure old laws to put away his targets, especially securities people. And, he busted a couple of high-end prostitution rings himself, accompanied by heavy publicity. The hypocrisy is so thick he should just resign right away to avoid doing damage to the party, especially this year.

    Not only that but I suspect the prostitution is connected to other shady behavior that will cause even more problems. In the state next door, our governor resigned saying it was because he was exposed as a homosexual - yeah right! He knew very well that the people of NJ didn't care if he was gay, if anything it gave us bragging rights as "hipper than thou". McGreevey resigned because one of his boyfriends was a security risk for whom he had done all kinds of improper favors. He knew his resignation and disappearance would cut off virtually all discussion of related issues, and he was right. McGreevey did the right thing, and the unselfish thing, for the Democratic Party by resigning. Spitzer should do the same.

    ummm... (none / 0) (#22)
    by jarober on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 05:44:48 AM EST
    The question I have is, does Spitzer have the money to be able to afford what he was buying?  If not, who paid for it?  And, given the ilicit nature of the service, what did the buyer expect in return?

    He's not in Jon Corzine's league but (none / 0) (#25)
    by Molly Bloom on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 07:55:52 AM EST
    He is definitely not a vagrant

    In all, Mr. Spitzer and his wife, Silda A. Wall, reported income of $6,243,644 for 1999. He paid $1,288,355 in federal income tax, $426,896 in state income tax and $238,318 in New York City income tax. Their total tax bill, $1,953,569, amounted to 31.3 percent of their income. They reported $16,056 in charitable contributions.

    Mr. Spitzer sold the eight apartments for $6.1 million, declaring capital gains of $5,968,911 after various expenses .

    The building at 200 Central Park South was built in 1963 by Bernard Spitzer, who transferred partial ownership to his children. When the building went co-op in 1984, Eliot Spitzer's share of the building was translated as ownership of eight apartments, which he retained and rented out. Most of his remaining assets are in other Manhattan real estate he was given in similar fashion by his father.

    Aside from the sale of the property, the Spitzers claimed $274,733 in income, derived roughly equally from his salary as attorney general and from income on other properties and investments.

    One thing we are not hearing (none / 0) (#23)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 07:37:31 AM EST

    One thing we are not hearing yet is the ring's connections to organized crime.  You may all remember the Nevada senator in Godfather.  The point is that his involvement with this bunch left him in a position to be blackmailed.  

    We may never know if he was blackmailed.  However, every case he brought, and everyone he did not bring is no quite rightly suspect.

    Spitzer's father (none / 0) (#24)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 07:50:23 AM EST
      is a NYC real estate honcho so I assume the source of the money is perfectly legit, but as noted above the manner in which Spitzer engaged in the financial transactions could be problematic.

       I'd agree that a federal prosecution either for prostitution, financial structuring/money laundering, interstate travel,  or racketeering would be serious overkill.

      He should resign forthwith though. The suggestion above that because he is now Governor and no longer AG or a prosecutor somehow lessens either the hypocricy or the risk of being subject to coercion to use his offices for the benefit of those with dirt on him is absurd. There's also the quaint notion that it's wrong to engage in criminal acts even without hypocricy or creating risk of extortion, and that elected official should be held to some minimal standard of personal conduct which excludes deviously plotting to commit criminal acts.

      Attempts to portray HIM as the victim are desperate nonsense as well. The only thing of which he is a victim is his own behavior.  The real victims are his wife and kids.


    He needs to resign. (none / 0) (#26)
    by lilybart on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 08:15:10 AM EST
    Dems need to prove that we are the party of personal responsibility, NOT like the GOP, the party of "whatever we can get away with."

    For the greater good, he needs to resign NOW.

    Then we can say, "Our guys resign, yours think it's all good."

    What needs to be addressed is why the government is nosing around our bank accounts at all. I thought under $10,000 was beyond suspicion. Even that is an invasion of privacy and nobodies business.

    We may never know (none / 0) (#27)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 08:22:13 AM EST
     exactly why the government targeted him for investigation. If he ends up not being charged with a financial crime that information might not become public unlesss leaked.

      One might speculate that a pattern of relatively small sums of money being transferred in a short period of time from/through  various accounts to a specific account raised suspicion of concealment but there are I suppose many other possibilities.


    If Vitter and Craig are still in the Senate... (none / 0) (#28)
    by lambert on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 08:27:05 AM EST
    ... then why shouldn't Spitzer still be a governor? All the pressure comes from "the narrative." Haven't we, at this point, learned to be just a leetle skeptical of the narrative at this point? Particularly when the entire Village is expressing shock what is routine practice for many?

    Since that weasel Mukasey got in on the strength of Schumer (D-NY) endorsing him, it would be interesting to know if the topic was covered in the private conversation he and Schumer had before Schumer gave Mukasey  the big thumbs-up.

    Not that the Republicans would ever politicize Justice to the point of targetting individuals, or that Mukasey would be installed to consolidate Gonzales's gains, rather than roll them back. Just a thought.

    Of couse he should resign (none / 0) (#29)
    by ding7777 on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 08:34:45 AM EST
    Spitzer's current participations in an activity in which he prosecuted others opens the door that maybe the money-laudering and human-trafficing  charges were trumped-up by Spitzer to enhance his political career.

    That is exactly (none / 0) (#30)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 08:36:13 AM EST
     the type of immoral rationalization that causes our political system to be rife with corruption in both parties at all levels. Someone else did something and that's now where the bar is set. Then someone else does something a little wors, so the bar should be lowered. sooner or later yo get to, well you get to here and now.

      Why can't people endorse any set of standards? Because standards risk disqualifying people we don't want disqualified.

    To amplify (none / 0) (#31)
    by lambert on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 08:41:32 AM EST
    My point is not that Spitzer is not hypocritical.

    However, in the Village, innocent bystanders are in short supply. And surely Spitzer is not the only member of the New York-Washington, DC axis taking advantage of Amtrak's fine Northeast Corridor service for an out-of-town tryst.

    And I would bet that many Villagers who are Shocked, shocked! today are at the same time checking their own personal phone, email, and financial records very, very carefully, particularly those involving out of town stays.... especially during the campaign season. Eh?

    Or did I not get the memo that power was no longer an aphrodisiac?

    more, beyond dubious, rationalization (none / 0) (#32)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 08:45:58 AM EST
      So you switch gears to the argument that because we don't catch all wrongdoers we should excuse those who do get caught with their their pants down?

      New lyrics, same melody.

    Priorities (none / 0) (#34)
    by lambert on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 09:12:29 AM EST

    I just find it hard to work myself into a lather about all this. If I had to pick a truly evil act, it would be torturing animals, not consensual sex. But that's just me. YMMV.

    Well, (none / 0) (#36)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 09:16:58 AM EST
     when not being "evil" becomes the only hurdle one must cross to establish one's bona fides to hold high office we can all rest easy.

    Funny! (none / 0) (#59)
    by lambert on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:35:01 AM EST
    But I will leave other readers to determine whether your comment is actually responsive. Meanwhile, the people running the whois searches are really adding value -- why I come to TalkLeft. Ciao!

    Fact is (none / 0) (#37)
    by kenoshaMarge on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 09:20:49 AM EST
    that guys with their pants down seldom get charged with anything. It's usually the prostitute that is charged.

    Personally I don't give a rat's butt if Spitzer was paying for sex or not. I've always thought, so long as the prostitute is of age, not a victim of the slave trade and willing it's no body's business but the stupid man caught with his britches down and the poor family members that have to be humiliated along with the nitwit too stupid to keep his pants zipped. (Yeah, I do mean Bill Clinton too.)

    However, if Spitzer tries to tough this out it will be a non-stop Republican talking point. We all know how the media and much of the public likes sex scandals. If Spitzer truly cares about his party and his family he will resign immediately.

    It may not be fair but Spitzer is too smart not to have known what would happen if his little escapades became public. He rolled the dice, and he lost.

    Not So Sure (none / 0) (#43)
    by squeaky on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 09:37:18 AM EST
    However, if Spitzer tries to tough this out it will be a non-stop Republican talking point.
    I know BTD also thinks it is bad for the party, and he is pretty smart about that stuff, but from my point of view, how can the GOP wave their fingers at Spitzer and not have it blow up in their own faces. Really now, the public is gullible but not that gullible.

    They can because... (none / 0) (#49)
    by kenoshaMarge on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:08:39 AM EST
    how can the GOP wave their fingers at Spitzer and not have it blow up in their own faces.

    First because the Republicans never mind being hypocritical and the media never seems to mind giving them a pass on it.

    How gullible is the public? More than we would like to think. And with an onslaught by the media being pounded day after day it will be the old, drip, drip, drip...

    Media was willing to make Vitter a short story. Want to bet that Spitzer won't be a novel?


    Yes I Will Bet (none / 0) (#51)
    by squeaky on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:20:21 AM EST
    There are too many people outraged with the GOP at this point for the media to get a pass. Vitter and Craig are not such old news. The GOP will wind up losing 2-1 on this and the public will be reminded that they are the party of lies, corruption and hypocrisy.

    From left field - 65 Wall Street? (none / 0) (#38)
    by mdx on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 09:25:35 AM EST
    Considering Spitzer's nickname, "The Sheriff of  Wall Street", it's interesting to note that the registration for the domain name EmperorsClubVIP.com, which was registered 7/30/2004,  is currently listed as

    Morgan Chang
    65 Wall Street
    New York, NY 10005
    (646) 299-5708

    The bust of the prostitution ring was announced in a March 6 press release.  There are multiple archived "who is" records for the domain since 2005 (as per www.whois.sc), and it seems the registrant record was altered in some way on March 6, March 8 and March 9.  Makes makes me wonder if the Wall Street address was put in as a dig at Spitzer.  

    What's at 65 Wall Street?

    Wall St. (none / 0) (#46)
    by eric on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 09:49:42 AM EST
    NYSE is at 11 Wall Street.

    Looking at google map, 65 is probably a loft or small office in the financial district.


    Clients 1-8 and 10...n, eh? (none / 0) (#56)
    by lambert on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:32:23 AM EST
    Also, perhaps, from the Financial District?

    Just a thought. Perhaps that would explain why they, too, haven't been charged?


    No. 8 or 10 (none / 0) (#60)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:36:41 AM EST
    appears to be from Chicago. The Chicago Tribune has an article today wondering who it is. The complaint says the woman flew from LAX to O'Hare for the "date."

    Interactive Data at 65 Wall Street? (none / 0) (#76)
    by mdx on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 11:35:25 AM EST
    Online there's a 1998 letter sent to Merrill Lynch on SecInfo.com from

    Interactive Data
    65 Wall Street, 11th Floor
    New York, N.Y. 10005
     (212) 306-6596
    FAX 212-306-6698

    regarding an SEC filing on some of their Defined Asset Funds.  


    Its not just hypocricy (none / 0) (#39)
    by miked on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 09:31:56 AM EST
    Hypocrisy is to some extent defensible. It amounts to taking a public stand to defend some standard of morality even though it is not achieved in private. Depending on what that public standard is, hypocrisy is not necessarily harmful.

    However, failing to meet a public standard of morality while putting other people in jail for the same behavior is another matter entirely.

    Take the McGreevey case - if a law banning homosexual sex had been on the books in NJ, and the governor had instructed his attorney general to imprison people for violating it, wouldn't it have put his own scandal in a very different light? To me that seems to be analogous to what we're seeing here.

    on the one hand, (none / 0) (#48)
    by cpinva on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:06:14 AM EST
    i really want to say that spitzer shouldn't resign. after all, what about all those republicans, caught with their pants down or their hands in someone else's pants, who've not resigned?

    however, i thought that's what made the democratic party superior to the republicans?: our people do the right thing.

    of course, there's all those other issues: apparent engagement in illegal activities.

    Get involved with a prostitute over statelines... (none / 0) (#50)
    by ctrenta on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:13:56 AM EST

    ... and get forced into retirement. Start a war on fabricated intelligence, wiretap ordinary Americans, violate the Geneva Convention and the U.N. convention on torture and you don't face retirement. Seems like our accountability standards (and/or priorities) are skewed don't you think?

    I still think we should focus more on Robert Wexler's investigations into impeachment for Bush and Cheney. That has meaning. The Spitzer scandal doesn't.  

    Does your previous sentiment about (none / 0) (#52)
    by riddlerandy on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:22:51 AM EST
    the Mayor of Austin apply to the Spitzer situation:

    "Austin, TX Mayor Will Wynn was charged with assault two days ago. Today, he admits it and says he has been in anger management counseling for a few years. The assault stems from an incident outside his condominium when a man made fun of his name. Wynn says he let the guy "push his buttons."

    A few weeks ago, Wynn endorsed Barack Obama. Obama said he was honored to have Wynn's support. Will we see him on the campaign trail?"

    You equate (none / 0) (#53)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:26:34 AM EST
    a victimless crime of morality  with the crime with assault? I don't see the connection.

    A victimless crime (none / 0) (#70)
    by riddlerandy on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:59:22 AM EST
    that Spitzer used to pursue with great fanfare

    Listen, like the guy.  At the time he was elected, he was one of my top 3 or 4 favorite Dems.  But the hypocrisy factor is pretty high.  And if this was a political prosecution, that should be brought out and pursued, altho in the end it doesnt change what he did, or what he should do.

    In any event, Hillary didnt need any consultation from us, she has already scrubbed her website.


    It's not a victimless crime (none / 0) (#78)
    by ding7777 on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 12:13:30 PM EST
    since Spitzer knows prostition rings engage in money-laundering activiies - or at least that what he said when he was prosecuting the rings

    There are lot's of connections one can miss (none / 0) (#54)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:31:01 AM EST
      if one endeavors to be really obtuse. The implication that we can only compare  perpetrators of wrongdoing of the same nature gets trotted out when that fallacious argument seems helpful, and then the equally fallacious argument that because someone else got away with adifferent/worse type of wrongdoing we should give a pass to the instant wrongdoer gets an airing.

      Amusingly, it's very often the same people who offer these conflicting rationalizations depending on how  the scandal du jour seems to play politically.

    I think a lot of us (none / 0) (#62)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:40:53 AM EST
    are conflicted on what should happen to Spitzer because we don't believe a public official's  private life should be cause for criminal charges or resignation but Spitzer's over-zealousness as New York's top cop makes the hypocrisy a factor of almost equal weight on the other side.

    So many are on the fence. Putting on my criminal defense hat, I have to side, however reluctantly, with Spitzer.

    My bias in favor..... (none / 0) (#85)
    by kdog on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 01:09:57 PM EST
    of criminal defendents makes me more eager to see Spitzer resign.

    I can't help but think of all the people he prosecuted on prostitution charges...my sympathies lie with them, not the new double-standard king of NY.


    Politically motivated (none / 0) (#65)
    by Lora on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:45:42 AM EST
    I would bet a milkshake (my standard bet) that it is politically motivated.

    Conspiracy buff theory:

    1. Get rid of Democratic governors (Siegelman for example).  
    2. Get Republican governors in place.
    3.  Appoint Republican-loyal Secretaries of State who oversee the election process.  
    4. Corrupt the election process in favor of Republicans.

    Let's see how far they get.  Will Spitzer end up in manacles and hauled off to federal prison like Siegelman?

    US Political Prisoners:  Democratic governors?

    I hope I'm just being very, very paranoid.

    Don't forget Spitzer was (none / 0) (#69)
    by Wile ECoyote on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:58:44 AM EST
    co-author of NY's  Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001.  

    The Act sanctions "roving" wiretaps of US citizens, expands the definition of terrorist activity to include money laundering [TRIPLE IRONY ALERT!!], and eliminates the statute of limitations for all "terrorist" offenses. The Act also permits the prosecution of suspects despite a pending or prior federal prosecution, and among further offensives, Spitzer and Pataki's bill prevents suspects from being freed due to a "technicality," i.e. an unlawful action made by investigators and law enforcement officials in complying with federal search and seizure regulations.

    It looks like his own act helped catch him.


    I'm not saying I like him (none / 0) (#80)
    by Lora on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 12:21:22 PM EST
    I appreciate the irony.  But did they target him as an individual and find something to pin on him?  Looks likely to me.

    Looks unlikely to (none / 0) (#84)
    by Wile ECoyote on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 01:03:07 PM EST
    me.  They were after the ring.

    Nope (none / 0) (#86)
    by eric on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 01:42:11 PM EST
    It is now clear that the "investigation" was started because they were monitoring Spitzer's bank account and found he was trasferring money.

    Jeralyn posted about is HERE.

    ABC News reports New York Governor Eliot Spitzer was the initial subject of the Justice Department investigation and it was his suspicious money transfers that led to their discovery of the prostitution ring.

    say what? (none / 0) (#67)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:50:32 AM EST
      Why shouldn't SOME things a politician does in his private life be cause for sanction--politically or legally?

      If a politician defrauds people in his "private life" should that be considered irrelevant to his holding office? If he slaps his wife or girlfriend? Abuses his children? Produces child porn? etc...

      What, I assume,  you really mean is that you consider consorting with hookers a trivial offense. you need to rein in your tendency to make sweeping statements when a narrowly focused one will be far more credible.

    your examples wouldn't be (none / 0) (#75)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 11:31:01 AM EST
    "private" -- they involve third parties who are hurt. There is no victim in an adult, consensual s*xual encounter. That's what makes it private and your examples not.

    That's a different definition (none / 0) (#77)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 12:04:02 PM EST
     of "private life" than the one commonly in American English.

    It seems that what you mean is that a politician's sex life insofar as it involves only consensual sex between adults should not be an issue.

      that's a more defensible position than what you previously stated, but it seems to be weakened a great deal in a case where the politician exhibits a willingness to knowingly violate established laws to get the kind of consensual sex he likes. Some  people might infer that a person who will commit crimes to  achieve obtaining an object that is itself legal in one area might just be more likely to behave similarly in others.  "Political power" is itself a legal objective-- but as you may have heard there are people who will employ illegal means to get it.


    Anomalies (none / 0) (#74)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 11:24:22 AM EST
      abound in the law, but is  that  really the issue here?

      Unless, one is either  claiming that due to an anomolous law one lacked intent to commit a crime or that the anomoly renders the law applicable to the offense unconstitutional, it is of little significance whether  a person's defenders don't like the law.

      A lot of people don't agree with certain campaign finance laws and it is beyond easy to point out many anomalies created by those laws, but if someone is caught willfully violating one and does not claim lack of intent or that the law is unconstitutional  does he get a pass just because you think what he did should be legal?

    Here is a report (none / 0) (#82)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 12:48:58 PM EST
    Here is a report of one resignation so far.
    Resignation Link

    Have you even READ the Mann Act? (none / 0) (#89)
    by Mann Act on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 10:53:47 PM EST
    Now, should the feds pursue a simple prostitution case just because the prostitute traveled from state to state? There is nothing to suggest that the prostitute was coerced or was forced into this business (in fact, she was making more per hour than just about every lawyer in town). The original Mann Act of 1910 was really meant to outlaw forced prostitution (and was known as the "White Slave Traffic Act.")

    Here's the actual language of the Mann Act.

    For those that don't want to read it all, here's the first sentence.  Judge for yourself:

    That any person who shall knowingly transport or cause to be transported, or aid or assist in obtaining transportation for, or in transporting, in interstate or foreign commerce, or in any Territory or in the District of Columbia, any woman or girl for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery

    Sounds like it fits the current case, no?

    Here's section 2 from which the above came from:

    SEC. 2. That any person who shall knowingly transport or cause to be transported, or aid or assist in obtaining transportation for, or in transporting, in interstate or foreign commerce, or in any Territory or in the District of Columbia, any woman or girl for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose, or with the intent and purpose to induce, entice, or compel such woman or girl to become a prostitute or to give herself up to debauchery, or to engage in any other immoral practice; or who shall knowingly procure or obtain, or cause to be procured or obtained, or aid or assist in procuring or obtaining, any ticket or tickets, or any form of transportation or evidence of the right thereto, to be used by any woman or girl in interstate or foreign commerce, or in any Territory or the District of Columbia, in going to any place for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose, or with the intent or purpose on the part of such person to induce, entice, or compel her to give herself up to the practice of prostitution, or to give herself up to the practice of debauchery, or any other immoral practice, whereby any such woman or girl shall be transported in interstate or foreign commerce, or in any Territory or the District of Columbia, shall be deemed guilty of a felony, and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars, or by imprisonment of not more than five years, or by both such fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the court.

    How can you only do a wikipedia search (which is obviously all the research you did judging from your Charlie Chaplin and Chuck Barry references) and even pretend to be an authority on the subject?

    Another thing to consider... (none / 0) (#90)
    by Mann Act on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 11:07:57 PM EST
    From : Of Martin and Mann, Wall Street Journal, March 12

    But suppose for a moment that he is charged under the Mann Act. Some might decry that a statute intended to deter human trafficking would be used against a "John" of the sort who is rarely prosecuted for being a customer of a prostitute. These observers would have a point.

    Then again, Mr. Spitzer himself is intimately familiar with the prosecutorial tactic of dusting off old laws and repurposing them. When he became New York's Attorney General in 1999, he seized on the 1921 Martin Act and wielded it as a club against some of the biggest firms on Wall Street. The Martin Act was originally passed to facilitate the prosecution of "bucket shops" that took advantage of small-time investors, but its use became relatively rare decades ago. It should have been repealed.

    However, the Martin Act was convenient for Mr. Spitzer's purposes because of the low bar it sets for bringing cases and the ability it afforded him to bring preliminary injunctions without even having to file a complaint first. Violations bring stiff civil and criminal penalties and, most important, do not require prosecutors to prove criminal intent. The law had been used primarily to pursue pyramid schemers, pump-and-dump operations and other unambiguous frauds, but Mr. Spitzer saw in it a way to exert enormous leverage over the Wall Street firms whose research practices he wanted changed. By using the Martin Act, Mr. Spitzer could more easily coerce settlements from his targets, who feared the law's low bar in court.