Report: Spitzer caught on federal wiretap

The New York Times reports that New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer was heard arranging to meet a prostitute during the course of a federal investigation.

By Alex Koppelman
Published March 10, 2008 7:35PM (EDT)

The New York Times is now reporting that New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer was heard on a federal wiretap making arrangements to meet a prostitute in Washington, D.C., last month.

The Times also reports that Spitzer learned of his implication in the probe of the prostitution ring when federal officials contacted his staff on Friday, and scheduled his press conference after inquiries from the paper.

Perhaps significantly, Spitzer apparently arranged for the woman to travel from New York to Washington -- that is, over state lines -- which might make him eligible for federal prosecution under the Mann Act, the Times says. The New York Sun reported earlier Monday on speculation that a then unnamed public official might have become involved in the federal investigation; the Sun based its story on the fact that all three of the assistant U.S. attorneys assigned to the prosecution are part of their office's public corruption unit.

Multiple media reports suggested that Spitzer will resign, but in a brief press conference Monday afternoon, he did not do so; nor did he directly address the substance of the Times' stories. Instead, with his wife by his side, he said:

Today, I wanted to briefly address a private matter. I have acted in a way that violates my obligations to my family, and that violates my -- or any -- sense of right and wrong. I apologize first, and most importantly, to my family. I apologize to the public, to whom I promised better.

I do not believe that politics in the long run is about individuals. It is about ideas, the public good and doing what is best for the state of New York.

But I have disappointed and failed to live up to the standard I expected of myself. I must now dedicate some time to regain the trust of my family.

I will not be taking questions. Thank you very much. I will report back to you in short order.

Thank you very much.

Update: The Times has a source identifying Spitzer as a man known only as Client 9 in federal court papers. According to the complaint against the defendants in the case, Client 9 was a repeat client of the prostitution ring who made multiple calls because of difficulties arranging a deposit for the Washington, D.C., appointment. He also, the complaint says, paid the woman he met in Washington extra money as a deposit for a future appointment. The woman -- named as "Kristen" in the complaint, and according to the description provided by one of the alleged ringleaders to Client 9, "an American, petite, very pretty brunette, 5 feet 5 inches, and 105 pounds" -- reported to her alleged employer that she had collected $4,300 from Client 9 at their meeting.

The complaint also describes a purported call between "Kristen" and one of the defendants, Temeka Rachelle Lewis, after the alleged appointment. An excerpt from the description of the call:

"Kristen" said that she liked him, and that she did not think he was difficult. "Kristen" stated: "I don't think he's difficult. I mean it's just kind of like ... whatever ... I'm here for a purpose. I know what my purpose is. I am not a ... moron, you know what I mean. So maybe that's why girls maybe think they're difficult ..." "Kristen" continued: "That's what it is, because you're here for a [purpose]. Let's not get it twisted -- I know what I do, you know." LEWIS responded: "You look at it very uniquely, because ... no one ever says it that way." LEWIS continued that from what she had been told "he" (believed to be a reference to Client-9) "would ask you to do things that, like, you might not think were safe -- you know -- I mean that ... very basic things ... "Kristen" responded: "I have a way of dealing with that ... I'd be like listen dude, you really want the sex? ... You know what I mean."

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

MORE FROM Alex Koppelman

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

War Room