Spitzer to Step Down; Paterson to Step In

New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer has announced that he is resigning. Spitzer will step down on Monday and hand over the reins of power to Lt. Governor David Paterson. Spitzer had been under intense pressure to resign after federal law enforcement alleged that he had paid large sums of cash to a high-class call girl agency.

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The Democratic governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer, announced today that he would resign and forever leave public life. Many had expected his resignation two days ago when news broke that he had been a customer of a high-priced call girl business. Yesterday, more details came out. Spitzer had spent as much as $80,000 on prostitutes. And today, shortly before noon, he made the announcement.

NPR's Adam Davidson reports.

ADAM DAVIDSON: Nobody outside of his inner circle had seen or heard from Governor Spitzer since Monday when he briefly apologized for unspecified failings. Today, he left his Manhattan apartment a bit before noon and, followed by dozens of reporters and press helicopters, took a hectic drive to his office. There, he spoke for exactly two minutes and 32 seconds. He focused much of his attention on his family, particularly his wife, who stood beside him once again this week.

Governor ELIOT SPITZER (Democrat, New York): I've begun to atone for my private failings with my wife, Silda, my children and my entire family. The remorse I feel will always be with me.

DAVIDSON: Spitzer seemed calmer and more controlled than he was on Monday. There were no tears in his or his wife's eyes this time. The lawyer and former prosecutor never confessed to anything specific. He hasn't said exactly what he did wrong, other than that he let down his family and the state of New York.

Gov. SPITZER: I'm deeply sorry that I did not live up to what was expected of me. To every New Yorker and to all those who believed in what I tried to stand for, I sincerely apologize.

DAVIDSON: Spitzer has not yet been charged with any crimes. It's possible he never will be. He may have violated federal prostitution and banking laws, or similar laws in New York and Washington, D.C. Today, the U.S. attorney investigating the case announced that the rumors are not true. He has not made any plea deal with the governor. Spitzer did say he will never again seek public office. That he will focus, for now, on his family. But that one day, he will seek ways to serve the common good.

Gov. SPITZER: I go forward with the belief as others have said that as human beings, our greatest glory consists not in never falling, but in rising every time that we fall.

DAVIDSON: Many saw Spitzer's resignation as inevitable, especially after a majority of state lawmakers, including many of the governor's own Democratic Party, said they would vote to impeach him. Spitzer's most contentious political relationship was surely with Joseph Bruno, the Republican state Senate majority leader. The two have battled publicly and angrily for well over a year over practically every aspect of the state's business. Bruno made what some are calling a victory speech shortly before Spitzer's resignation.

State Senator JOSEPH BRUNO (Republican, New York): As for Eliot Spitzer, my heart goes out to his wife and to his family at this time. He must deal with his own problems in his own way. But it is now time for us and all New Yorkers to move forward.

DAVIDSON: Spitzer will officially stay on until Monday in order to give the lieutenant governor, David Paterson, some time to prepare to become governor.

Adam Davidson, NPR News, New York.

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Spitzer Resigns After Sex Scandal, Pressure

New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer announces his resignation with his wife, Silda, at his office.

New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer announces his resignation with his wife, Silda, at his office in New York. Timothy A. Clary/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Timothy A. Clary/Getty Images

The Federal Case

In partial transcripts that include "Client 9," the government details what it says is an interstate sex-for-money scheme.

New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer has resigned, bowing to enormous pressure for him to leave public office in the wake of allegations that he has repeatedly used the services of a high-priced prostitution ring. Spitzer has not denied those allegations.

A somber Spitzer, flanked by his wife, Silda, stepped to the podium to give up the office he assumed just 14 months ago.

"I look at my time as governor with a sense of what might have been," Spitzer said.

"The remorse I feel will always be with me," he told gathered reporters. "I cannot allow for my private failings to disrupt the people's work."

Referring to the high standards he has expected from others, "I can and will expect no less of myself," he said.

The governor's resignation will have an effective date of Monday, March 17, one week after the case first became public knowledge. Lt. Gov. David Paterson, 53, now becomes New York's first black governor. Paterson, who is legally blind, will serve out Spitzer's term, which ends on Dec. 31, 2010.

Spitzer has not been charged with a crime.

In response to media speculation that Spitzer may have been bargaining with prosecutors in the case, Michael J. Garcia, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said: "There is no agreement between this office and Governor Eliot Spitzer, relating to his resignation or any other matter."

Michele Hirshman, Spitzer's former deputy attorney general and now a member of a high-powered New York law firm, has been retained to represent the governor.

Speaking an hour before Spitzer's announcement, New York Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno said the governor "must deal with his own problems in his own way."

"But it is time for us, and all New Yorkers, to move forward," Bruno said.

Since acknowledging in a brief statement on Monday that he had acted "in a way that violates my obligations to my family," the first-term Democrat and his family had remained secluded in their apartment on Manhattan's 5th Avenue.

In his long tenure (1999-2006) as New York's attorney general, Spitzer honed a reputation as a hard-charging prosecutor who brooked no compromises when it came to enforcing the law. Along the way, he collected a number of influential enemies, particularly on Wall Street, where Spitzer aggressive prosecuted financial misdeeds.

Spitzer said he is "deeply sorry" that he didn't live up to what was expected of him. He said he "sincerely" apologizes to every New Yorker.

Republicans on Tuesday threatened to impeach Spitzer if he didn't resign. Polls taken immediately after the revelation show that 70 percent of New Yorkers wanted him out of office.

The scandal erupted Monday, when allegations surfaced that Spitzer, 48, who is married with three teenage daughters, was the person investigators identified as "Client 9" — a customer of a call girl named Kristen. The two allegedly met at a swanky Washington hotel on the night before Valentine's Day.

Officials say Spitzer spent up to $80,000 with the prostitution ring Emperors Club VIP.

The investigation was triggered when banks noticed frequent cash transfers from several accounts and filed suspicious-activity reports with the Internal Revenue Service, a law enforcement official told the Associated Press. The accounts were traced back to Spitzer, prompting public corruption investigators to open an inquiry.

Spitzer was then allegedly caught on a federal wiretap. He could now face several charges, which include structuring — shuffling money around between accounts and entities in an attempt to mask a transaction — and transporting prostitutes across state lines.

In an AP telephone poll, 49 percent of New Yorkers said that even if Spitzer resigns, he should face criminal charges. The survey, conducted Tuesday, contacted 624 registered voters; it had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Transcript of the statement Spitzer delivered Wednesday announcing his resignation:

In the past few days I've begun to atone for my private failings with my wife, Silda, my children and my entire family. The remorse I feel will always be with me. Words cannot describe how grateful I am for the love and compassion they have shown me.
From those to whom much is given, much is expected. I have been given much — the love of my family, the faith and trust of the people of New York, and the chance to lead this state. I am deeply sorry I did not live up to what was expected of me.
To every New Yorker, and to all those who believed in what I tried to stand for, I sincerely apologize. I look at my time as governor with a sense of what might have been, but I also know that as a public servant, I and the remarkable people with whom I worked have accomplished a great deal.
There is much more to be done and I cannot allow my private failings to disrupt the people's work. 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.
I can and will ask no less of myself. For this reason I am resigning from the office of governor, and at Lt. Gov. David Paterson's request, the resignation will be effective on Monday, March 17, a date that he believes will permit an orderly transition.
I go forward with the belief, as others have said, that as human beings our greatest glory consists not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.
As I leave public life, I will first do what I need to do to help and heal myself and my family, then I will try once again, outside of politics, to serve the common good and to move toward the ideals and solutions which I believe can build a future of hope and opportunity for us and for our children.
I hope all of New York will join my prayers for my friend, David Paterson, as he embarks on his new mission and I thank the public once again for the privilege of service. Thank you very much.

from NPR reports and the Associated Press.

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