On this day: Eliot Spitzer’s downfall

March 10 2008: a politician and a scandal


Former New York governor Eliot Spitzer wasn’t the first political player whose career was prematurely ended by a sex scandal, and he likely won’t be the last.

From a religious family, he studied at Princeton then trained at Harvard Law school. A star of the Democrat party for many years, as New York’s Attorney General he took on many of the city’s financial elites and was named Time magazine’s 2002 “Crusader of the Year”. In 2006 he won the gubernatorial race and looked set to continue his political trajectory.

But the man who had been tipped to become the first Jewish occupant of the White House was publicly shamed in March 2008, when the New York Times revealed his connection to a pricey prostitution service and his involvement with $1,000-an-hour call girl Ashley Dupre. Spitzer was married at the time and a father of three.

The scandal, in which Spitzer was famously identified as “Client number 9”, came to light because Spitzer was being wiretapped by federal agents over allegations of bribery.

Two days later the governor resigned because of his “private failings”. He left office for good on March 17.

What the JC said: His property-developer father once claimed that he would be America’s “first Jewish president”. Instead, as a sex scandal this week forced the resignation of Eliot Spitzer, American Jewish groups were remembering their lost hope’s ties with the community, and recalling his tireless efforts to prosecute alleged corruption in a leading Jewish organisation….Prof Alan Dershowitz, who employed Mr Spitzer as his research assistant in the 1980s, called him “a young man of great brilliance, high integrity, conservative demeanour and enormous promise”. He added: “I think somewhat less of him now, largely because of what he did to his family.”

See more from the JC archives here.

Last updated: 8:46am, March 10 2011