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Profile of Eliot Spitzer, Former New York Governor

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Profile of Eliot Spitzer, Former New York Governor

Attorney General Eliot Spitzer

Eliot Spitzer, Attorney General & New York Governor:

Eliot Spitzer was elected in 1998 and 2002 as New York state Attorney General. In November 2006, Spitzer was elected as Governor of New York state.

On March 10, 2008, Spitzer was alleged in the New York Times to be involved with a prostitution ring. (See Democrats Disappointed at Spitzer Sex Scandal.) Spitzer resigned from office on March 12, 2008.

Starting Oct 4, 2010, Spitzer became co-anchor of a one-hour CNN program with conservative Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker, a political analysis show that debuted to low ratings and loads of critical chatter.

Notoriety in Probing Wall Street Crimes:

Spitzer pursued fraud in various Wall Street stalwarts. His highest-profile victory came when, in 2002, he read a stack of Merrill Lynch emails in which company execs boasted that they downgraded a stock rating only because the company wouldn't do business with Merrill.

Investigation revealed that Merrill operations were riddled with financial conflicts of interest that affected its advice to customers. Merrill Lynch settled for $100 million, and its reputation was gravely damaged.

Notoriety in Probing Other Crimes:

The scope of Spitzer's legal pursuits were enormous. Spitzer sued out-of-state power plants to reduce smog/acid rain in New York. He demanded that the EPA turn over files of 50 power plants investigated but never prosecuted. He forced music publishers to pay millions in back royalites to artists.

He investigated under-the-table commissions in the insurance industry, and led a massive investigation into internet adware and spyware, and settled with one offender, Intermix, in June 2005.

Accolades and Areas of Interest:

Attorney General Eliot Spitzer demonstrated a zealous, driving passion for consumer affairs; environmental protections; civil rights and public safety.

Spitzer garnered accolades for his legal crusades. Time magazine named him "Crusader of the Year" in 2002. In 2003, San Francisco Chronicle named him "Businessperson of the Year." In 2004, University of Illinois honored him with its "Ethics in Government" award. New York magazine gave him their Public Service Award.

Prior Experience:

While at Harvard, Eliot worked for famed law professor Alan Dershowitz. After law school, he clerked for a federal judge, then worked for 2 years at a blue-chip law firm.

Spitzer found his niche in 1986 when he joined the Manhattan District Attorney's office, where he spent 6 years doggedly pursuing organized crime figures. In 1994, he ran and lost the state Attorney General election. Electoral lessons learned, he ran again and won in 1998 and 2002.

Personal Data:

  • Birth - June 10, 1959 in the Bronx, New York City
  • Education - BA from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs; JD from Harvard Law School, Editor of the Harvard Law Review
  • Family - Married, 3 teenage daughters. His wife, Silda, a Harvard Law School graduate, is founder of Children for Children, which helps children volunteer to benefit other children.
  • Faith - Jewish
  • Hobbies - Tennis, squash, jogging in Central Park
For more, see Silda Wall and Eliot Spitzer Marriage Profile

Eliot Spitzer's Parents:

His parents were observant Austrian Jews, and his grandparents were all immigrants who were processed through Ellis Island. Father Bernard put himself through school and became a self-made wealthy developer of apartment buildings. Mother Anne was an English literature professor.

Said Eliot's sister Emily Spitzer, "We were told early that you're not here to make a pile of cash and be confortable. The goal of our lives had to be to do some greater good."

Childhood and Growing Up:

At nightly family dinner, the 3 Spitzer children were expected to debate political issues of the day. The children rotated leading the family discussions.

Young Eliot was athletic and competitive, and excelled in tennis and soccer. His parents remember attending only one of his games, however. He hated to lose, even at board games or a friendly table tennis match.

In school, he was bright, popular and self-confident. He was elected Princeton student body president as an undergraduate.

The Eliot Spitzer Persona:

Eliot is feared on Wall Street and adored by the press. He's known as the peoples' lawyer and as a man of vision and integrity. He views himself not as an anti-capitalist, but as defender of capitalism.

Thomas Donohue of the US Chamber of Commerce dubbed him "the judge, jury and executioner" in his Wall Street cases. Another called him "Howard Dean but without the charm." While genial and charming in private, he can be caustic and impatient with those who cross him.

Memorable Quotes:

"If you succeed all the time, you're probably picking battles that are too easy."

"The issues we've raised clearly have a populist air to them because they're designed to guarantee that there is equity and fairness, regardless of who you are---the small investor, the low-wage worker. But the resolutions aren't designed to tear down the institutions. The effort was to make them work properly."

"Both my parents were critically important in how I emerged, the values they taught me. They both had very modest beginnings. All my grandparents were immigrants, and I think my parents did well, but did well by virtue of hard work and good education that they got in the public schools here, and they passed on those values to their kids."

"Faith...faith affects every decision we make. The values we bring to what we do, our notion that integrity should guide the marketplace, how we deal with outher people, our definition of what government stands for. I think that it affects what I view as a progressive view of government, being there to help people create wealth for themselves and the values that dictate how we deal with each other, the sort of spirit of community that government is there to foster, that is all bred by the faith that we bring to our daily lives."

"Business, in many cases, will descend to the lowest common denominator. And if we believe that the market depends upon integrity and fair dealing, then government must step in to make sure that the rules are honored."

"People are fed up with adware and spyware. They feel as though they've lost control of their computers, and they want something to be done. Those who engage in these abuses are hard to track down. An operation can be terminated and another literally pops up. Hopefully, technology will provide a comprehensive solution at some point, but until that time, there needs to be a cop in cyberspace who will stop the most egregious abuses."

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