New York Gov. Spitzer resigns

At a press conference in his Manhattan office, Spitzer says, "I cannot allow my private failings to disrupt the people's work."

By Alex Koppelman
Published March 12, 2008 4:05PM (EDT)

New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's resignation came two days after it had first been expected, but in a short press conference on Wednesday morning, it did finally come. Spitzer had been the center of controversy and media attention ever since the New York Times first reported Monday that he was allegedly a client of a prostitution ring recently busted by federal authorities.

Federal prosecutors are reportedly considering charges against Spitzer himself, and the delay in his resignation may have been due to negotiations between Spitzer and prosecutors -- a resignation from public office is often used as a bargaining chip in cases like this.

Spitzer made only a brief statement and took no questions. He looked tired and haggard, but his wife, Silda Wall Spitzer -- who, the Times reports, had been encouraging him to try to stay in his job -- stood by his side.

"In the past few days, I have begun to atone for my private failings with my wife, Silda, my children and my entire family. The remorse I feel will always be with me. Words cannot describe how grateful I am for the love and compassion they have shown me," Spitzer said. He continued:

From those to whom much is given, much is expected. I have been given much -- the love of my family, the faith and trust of the people of New York, and the chance to lead this state. I am deeply sorry that I did not live up to what was expected of me. To every New Yorker, and to all those who believed in what I tried to stand for, I sincerely apologize.

I look at my time as governor with a sense of what might have been, but I also know that as a public servant I -- and the remarkable people with whom I worked -- have accomplished a great deal. There is much more to be done, and I cannot allow my private failings to disrupt the people's work.

Over the course of my public life, I have insisted -- I believe correctly -- that people, regardless of their position or power, take responsibility for their conduct. I can, and will, ask no less of myself. For this reason, I am resigning from the office of governor ...

As I leave public life, I will first do what I need to do to help heal myself and my family. Then I will try once again, outside of politics, to serve the common good and to move toward the ideas and solutions which I believe can build a future of hope and opportunity for us and for our children.

Spitzer's resignation will not take effect until Monday. This, he said, came at the request of Lt. Gov. David Paterson, who will be taking over as governor. Paterson reportedly made the request to ensure that he would have time to plan a smooth transition into his new job.

Update: Video of Spitzer's remarks has been added below.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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