Spitzer apologized for his conduct to his family and the public yesterday in a press conference at his Manhattan office but did not say whether he would resign.
When contacted at home on Monday night by The Daily Princetonian, Spitzer declined to comment on his situation. When asked whether he will resign the governorship, he said, “I just can’t answer the question.”
Appearing at the conference with his wife of 21 years, Silda Wall, at his side, Spitzer admitted he had “violate[d] my obligations to my family and that violates my — or any — sense of right and wrong.” Spitzer and Wall have three daughters.
Spitzer had allegedly made arrangements last month to transport a prostitute from New York City to a Washington, D.C., hotel room where he was staying.
Shock and dismay
Alumni who attended Princeton with Spitzer reacted to the news with shock. Several recalled a promising student and talented politician, remembering how Spitzer was already making a name for himself as USG chairman nearly three decades ago.
Sebastian Conde ’80, who was the USG academics director under Spitzer, described him as “a great leader, even in those young years so long ago.”
“He had a vision, was articulate, but above all he cared about what each of us thought,” Conde said in an e-mail. “Don’t get me wrong, he made us work hard, but when all had piled up to the point of tipping over, he would come around with a warm smile, sleeves rolled up and say, OK, let’s see how we can make it happen.”
Spitzer’s involvement in a prostitution ring is “a bit self-destructive and out of character,” said Eric Keller ’81, who was a Wilson School major along with Spitzer.
“Just because you’re intelligent doesn’t mean you can’t do self-destructive and stupid things,” Keller added.
Eric Yollick ’83, who served as a freshman delegate when Spitzer was USG chairman, sympathized.
“You’ve got to feel sorry for his family, and you’ve got to feel sorry for his constituents,” Yollick said.
“The personal issues here are undoubtedly his first priority: his family at this point,” said John Frank ’81, who was in the Wilson School and Cloister Inn with Spitzer. “The professional issues will have to come second.”
“It’s a sad day for him and his family,” Keller noted. “I just wish him the best.”
Current Princeton students from New York also reacted to the turmoil surrounding a man who was once in their shoes.
“I thought it was a tragedy since he came into the governorship ready to lay down the law for New York State, and this destroys his credibility,” Nathan Buch ’10 of Brooklyn, N.Y., said.
“Spitzer hasn’t exactly come out so clean earlier in his term as a governor,” Jeffrey Mensch ’11 of New York City said. “I wasn’t as surprised as some other people might have been.”
Still, he said “I think that especially from someone who’s served as a prosecutor and mentor, you’d expect better.”
A Tiger caught by the tail
Last week, four people linked to a prostitution ring called Emperors Club VIP were arrested and charged with violating the Mann Act, a 1910 law making it illegal to transport women between states for prostitution purposes, The New York Times reported.
Prosecutors charge that the arrested individuals set up connections between wealthy men and more than 50 prostitutes in cities across the country and in London and Paris, according to the Times.
According to court documents, a federal wiretap recorded someone called “Client 9” arranging a meeting with a prostitute at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., in February. “Client 9” discussed the arrangements with one of the four defendants, who described the prostitute as petite and attractive, according to The Washington Post. The Times and the Associated Press have identified “Client 9” as Spitzer.
Spitzer learned last Friday that he was implicated in the prostitution inquiry when a federal official contacted his staff.
The scandal comes on the heels of a rocky year in Albany for a governor who was elected promising to bring ethics reform to Albany.
Spitzer’s term as governor has been marked by his controversial initiative to allow illegal immigrants to receive driver’s licenses and by a plot by his aides to embarrass New York Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R), one of Spitzer’s main rivals.
Spitzer was elected governor of New York in 2006 with 69 percent of the vote. Before that election, Spitzer served as New York’s attorney general for eight years and made a name for himself investigating Wall Street for questionable business practices.
For updates on this story, go to The Daily Princetonian's Blog, The Prox.