News & Politics

Was Spitzer's Scandal a Justice Department Sting All Along?

Spitzer needed to go, but it wasn't the federal government's place to force him out.
Am I the only one who is appalled that the Justice Department forced Eliot Spitzer out of office?
Sources: Lawyers for Spitzer negotiate possible plea deal
5:32 PM EDT, March 11, 2008
Lawyers for Gov. Eliot Spitzer are negotiating a possible plea deal with federal prosectuors stemming from his alleged involvement with a prostitution ring, sources said.
Several sources said that the one serious bargaining chip that Spitzer has to possibly avoid being charged with a serious felony, such as money laundering or avoiding federal currency rules, is to work out a deal in which he would give up the governorship. In return, prosecutors would assure him that he only would have to plead at most to a misdemeanor or even less and be in effect guaranteed that he would not have to go to prison. [Newsday]
If the foregoing is true, you could describe the same scenario another way: Federal law enforcement approached the sitting governor of New York and threatened to charge him with felonies unless he resigned his office.

The spin is that Spitzer used his office as a bargaining chip, but it takes two parties to negotiate. It doesn't matter who made the opening bid. If it's true that the feds offered anything in exchange for Spitzer's resignation, we have proof that this was a political sting all along.

For whatever reason, Spitzer's prompt resignation was very important to the feds. It was so important to them that they may have been willing to give up on some rather serious charges to get Spitzer out of power. If the DOJ was dispassionately pursuing justice, wouldn't it have cared more about the alleged felonies than about whether a damaged governor stayed in office?

How could the Justice Department to enter into such negotiations? Resignation is a political decision, not a matter of criminal justice.
Lindsay Beyerstein a New York writer blogging at Majikthise.
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