New York Governor Eliot Spitzer resigned from office on Wednesday, succumbing to threats of impeachment and mounting media pressure over his involvement in a career-ending prostitution scandal.
Speaking to reporters in New York, where he had been holed up since news of his involvement with a high-end call-girl ring emerged on Monday, Spitzer said he had failed to live up to the standards expected of public officials.
”Over the course of my public life I have insisted, I believe correctly, that people, regardless of their position or power, take responsibility for their conduct,” Spitzer told reporters in New York, flanked by his wife.
”I can and will ask no less of myself. For his reason I am resigning from the office of governor” effective from Monday, an ashen-faced Spitzer said
”I cannot allow my private failings to disrupt the people’s work,” he added. Spitzer, the one-time ”Sheriff of Wall Street”, would on Monday formally hand over to Lieutenant Governor David Paterson, who would become the state’s first black governor and the first blind governor in United States history.
It was a dramatic fall from grace for Spitzer, a Hillary Clinton ally once considered presidential material and known as ”Mr Clean” for taking down organised crime and tackling Wall Street corruption.
Republicans in the State Assembly on Tuesday had given Spitzer 48 hours to quit or face impeachment proceedings, while New York newspapers had also called for the governor, who could yet face federal charges, to stand down.
His resignation came as further details emerged of Spitzer’s use of prostitutes, with the New York Post saying he had spent up to $80Ã‚Â 000 on call girls going back 10 years to his time as New York state Attorney General.
Spitzer, a father of three, initially indicated when the news broke on Monday that he did not intend to step down, labelling the scandal ”a private matter”.
Politics, he said, was not about individuals. ”It is about ideas, the public good, and doing what is best for the state of New York.”
Appearing alongside his wife of more than 20 years, Spitzer apologised for his behaviour but did not make any specific admissions.
But by Tuesday, talks were already reportedly going ahead in the state capital, Albany, to ensure a smooth transition to Paterson.
Spitzer (48) had from the beginning been under pressure to step down, first from the Republican Governors’ Association and later from Republican lawmakers in the New York state assembly.
The minority leader of the assembly said on Tuesday he would introduce impeachment proceedings unless Spitzer stepped down within 24 to 48 hours.
Spitzer was allegedly caught on a federal wiretap last month arranging to meet a prostitute at a hotel in Washington, where he was due to address the US Congress the following day.
He was believed to have used an exclusive ring known as the ”Emperor’s Club VIP”, which was broken up by New York authorities last week.
Prosecutors said last week the ring employed more than 50 prostitutes who charged fees ranging from $1Ã‚Â 000 to more than $5Ã‚Â 500 per hour.
According to reports, Spitzer was the ”client nine” named in a criminal complaint filed by prosecutors last week.
The complaint suggested client nine had used the prostitution ring’s services before and detailed how he arranged to have a prostitute named Kristen brought from New York to Washington.
According to the complaint, the client paid her $4Ã‚Â 300 and left after about two hours.
According to reports, Spitzer’s bank had reported the governor to tax authorities because he had transferred $10Ã‚Â 000 by breaking it into smaller amounts, and asked the bank to remove his name from the transactions.
Spitzer became governor in January last year. Once named Time magazine’s ”Crusader of the Year”, he used his inauguration address to pledge to bring ethical government to New York. — AFP