Wednesday, March 12, 2008


If I were Eliot Spitzer's attorney, I would have advised him not to resign as governor of the State of New York. Why? Because the electorate most probably would have been sympathetic if Spitzer would have "pleaded" mental illness. I realize this would be little help for him in the face of criminal charges, but my feeling is the authorities would not have charged him with any crime. Forget about bringing charges under the 1910 Mann Act which makes it a felony to transport women across state lines for purposes of prostitution. There have been no cases brought under this statute in years. And to charge Spitzer for concealing his payments by sending money to intermediary accounts would have been weak. Spitzer sent his money where the prostitution service directed.

So absent any criminal charges, why did Eliot Spitzer resign? I speak as if I were Spitzer's lawyer. I would have suggested that he clearly admit mental illness at his press conference today, ask for some sabbatical time to place himself in a psychiatric hospital for several months, and place himself upon the public's mercy. If he had been stricken with a physical illness, I am sure the public would feel sympathetic. A mental illness should elicit equal sympathy.

Here's a man who was elected attorney general of NY, who prosecuted various financial crimes, who sued Dick Grasso, former head of the New York Stock Exchange for taking unreasonable compensation (150 million) from a non-profit organization, and who also led the prosecution of several prostitution rings. To see him thereafter frequent a prostitution service is beyond belief. In other words, Eliot Spitzer is sick, mentally sick. And for that reason, it was a political mistake to resign.

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