N.Y. Governor Tied to Prostitution Ring

Last week, federal investigators charged the operators of a high-end international online prostitution ring. Monday, word broke that an FBI affidavit alleges that none other than New York's democratic Governor Eliot Spitzer was caught arranging a meeting with an escort from the service.

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BILL WOLFF: From NPR News in New York, this is the Bryant Park Project.

ALISON STEWART, host:

Overlooking historic Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan, this is the Bryant Park Project from NPR News. News, information, Client Nine. I'm Alison Stewart.

RACHEL MARTIN, host:

And I'm Rachel Martin. It's Tuesday, March 11th, 2008. Welcome back, Alison.

STEWART: Thank you so much.

MARTIN: It's OK to do this thing by yourself, but it's way more fun when you're here.

STEWART: Well, thank you.

MARTIN: Feel like I'm not speaking into the void. I'm speaking to everyone listening, but it's more fun to have a real, live person.

STEWART: A lot of stuff happened in the news yesterday while I was - I was at the mother ship down in Washington, D.C.

MARTIN: Yeah, there was a little scandal. I think we can call that...

STEWART: A scandal.

MARTIN: With New York State's governor, if you haven't heard.

STEWART: I think it's called "fresh meat" for the writers at "Saturday Night Live."

MARTIN: Yes, it is.

STEWART: They just said, whew. Long lunch on Thursday.

MARTIN: You know, a tale as old as time, I tell you. You know, we're going to drill down on that a little bit later. Also on the show today, though, the U.S. Treasury Department has blacklisted a foreign website for selling vacation packages to Cuba. We're going to find out how using the online suffix "dot com" could get your website shut down.

STEWART: And we've all heard about home-schooling. It seems like every time some kid wins a spelling bee or a geography bee, there was a so-and-so home-schooled. I understand why some people might want to do it, but there's an interesting case out of California. A California appellate court, it ruled that parents cannot home-school their kids unless they are credentialed by the state. It's sort of an interesting story. It came a little bit out of left field. I won't give away why the courts got involved. You'll have to listen to the segment to find out why that is. But clearly, it is causing some commotion within the home-schooling circles. We're going to talk to a professor who is going to explain to us some of the ins and outs, and how different states have different rules about home-schooling. There's actually no mention of the word home-schooling in California law, so it's a little bit of a hazy area.

MARTIN: Also the mayor of South by Southwest. We know him as Andy Langer. He is our good friend at the BPP, music critic at Esquire, and he's going to be with us to talk about New Music Tuesday, new releases this week, and the latest from the festival down in Austin.

STEWART: That lucky dog.

MARTIN: I know. Life's tough. He did say it is kind of hard. He's only sleeping a couple hours a night.

STEWART: Wah, wah, wah. A little tiny tear going down my cheek. You're that close to Stubb's Barbeque. I have no sympathy for you.

MARTIN: I'm going to walk you through the day's headlines, and we also have The Most this hour, but first...

Eliot Mess? Holy Spitz! Will Spitz quits? Love Client Number Nine. We took our guesses yesterday at what the headline in the always-colorful New York Post would be today. The New York Post went with "Ho No." That question answered, we're left asking what do we know, and what don't we know about the story broken yesterday by the New York Times - that federal investigators have linked New York's Democratic mayor, Eliot Spitzer, to a prostitution ring.

STEWART: We do know that last week federal investigators brought charges against the alleged operators of a high-end, international online prostitution organization called The Emperor's Club.

MARTIN: We know that an FBI affidavit in the case alleges that a john known as Client Nine was caught on a wiretap arranging a February 13th meeting with an escort from the service in a Washington, D.C., hotel room.

STEWART: You mean the day before Valentine's Day?

MARTIN: And we know that a law enforcement official has said Client Nine is Eliot Spitzer. Yesterday afternoon after the allegations came out in the New York Times, Governor Spitzer apologizes in a press conference with his wife by his side. But we don't know exactly for what he was apologizing.

(Soundbite of press conference)

Governor ELIOT SPITZER (Democrat, New York): I've acted in a way that violates my obligations to my family, and that violates my, or any, sense of right and wrong. I apologize first and most importantly to my family. I apologize to the public, whom I promised better.

MARTIN: Spitzer was contrite but not specific, and while he didn't address the question that was on everybody's mind, would the scandal lead to his resignation? Others were calling for him to leave office. New York State Assembly Republican leader James Tadisco said Spitzer, quote, "violated the public trust."

(Soundbite of press conference)

Assemblyman JAMES TADISCO (Republican, New York State Assembly): If, indeed, he was involved with this, I don't think there's any way he can continue to be the executive here, or be the governor.

STEWART: Tadisco also brought up something that has been talked about in the news and in more than 1,200 reader comments on the New York Times story. The fact, until yesterday, Spitzer's legacy would have been as a champion of ethics, known for routing out corruption as New York attorney general before he took office, earning the handles "Crusader" and yes, "Eliot Ness."

MARTIN: Now, like we've said, it may indeed be "Eliot Mess."

STEWART: Stay tuned. Let's get some more headlines.

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