- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 13, 2008

New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer was unable to cut a deal with prosecutors before his resignation yesterday, after getting caught in a call-girl scandal that transformed him from “Mr. Clean” into “Client 9.”

In a statement issued after the Democratic governor’s resignation, U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia said there was no deal to protect the disgraced governor: “There is no agreement between this office and Governor Eliot Spitzer, relating to his resignation or any other matter.”

Authorities in the District now are weighing whether to prosecute Mr. Spitzer for soliciting and paying for sex for his trysts here at the posh Mayflower Hotel.

The governor had held out for two days since the news broke Monday that he spent thousands of dollars — one unconfirmed report said as much as $80,000 — on high-priced call girls. But Democrats and Republicans began to speak openly about his resignation, so, with his somber wife once again by his side, Mr. Spitzer announced his departure, effective next Monday.

“In the past few days, I’ve 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,” he said in a Manhattan press conference.

“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,” said Mr. Spitzer, who became a pillar of morality during his days as the state’s attorney general when he cracked down on Wall Street barons and prostitution rings.

During the press conference, his staffers stood along one wall in his New York City office, looking on quietly, some leaning against one another, as the governor read his resignation.

Lt. Gov. David Paterson will take over Monday, becoming New York’s first black governor. He also will be the state’s first legally blind governor and its first disabled governor since Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Mr. Paterson said he was saddened, but would move forward. “It is now time for Albany [the capital] to get back to work as the people of this state expect from us,” he said in a statement.

Mr. Spitzer’s lawyers advised him to remain in office as he negotiated with prosecutors over possible charges, but no deal was reached. Word emerged yesterday that his wife urged him to stay in office, but an aide to the governor took a count of support and it became clear he could not withstand an impeachment effort.

The governor offered a qualified apology yesterday, saying: “I am deeply sorry I did not live up to what was expected of me.”

He became wistful about leaving the post that he won in a landslide by promising to clean up New York politics, but had held for just 15 months, saying he viewed it “with a sense of what might have been.”

The governor said he will next try to “heal myself and my family, then I will try once again, outside of politics, to serve the common good.”

The rapid resignation was a stunning end to a political career that looked to have no limit. The 48-year-old’s name had been floated as a possible U.S. attorney general in the event of the Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s election as president. As a superdelegate to the Democratic presidential nominating convention, he had already endorsed the New York senator and was expected to play a prominent role campaigning for her in the state.

Some even mentioned him as a future presidential candidate.

Federal investigators opened a probe into Mr. Spitzer’s activities after banks notified the Internal Revenue Service that he was making frequent cash transfers from several accounts.

Law-enforcement officials said he was the person identified as “Client 9” in court papers who paid thousands for a night in a Washington hotel with a prostitute named “Kristen.”

FBI agents in Washington put Mr. Spitzer under surveillance at least twice — on Jan. 26 and Feb. 13 — to determine whether a prostitute joined him at the Mayflower Hotel in the District.

c This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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