Five years ago, then-up-and-coming Democrat Eliot Spitzer got caught patronizing prostitutes and resigned as the governor of New York. The salacious scandal made national news for weeks. The Emperors Club VIP prostitution service’s former Client #9 spent a good portion of the interim doing daily penance leading up to his primary run last year for New York City comptroller, the second-most powerful position in the Big Apple. He lost anyway.
The day before this past Christmas, Mr. Spitzer and his wife announced they were divorcing after the local tabloids outed Mr. Spitzer’s affair with Lis Smith, the spokeswoman on his failed campaign, who was at the time working for the new mayor. The split made little more than a regional ripple, but it did cost the former governor’s mistress her position with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Here’s why Virginians should care: At one time, Ms. Smith was Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s press secretary. Ms. Smith and Mr. Spitzer are now both unemployed, but they won’t be splashing around in a hot tub in Jamaica forever. Political sharks all swim in the same tank, doing laps from post to post and back again — and they rarely get out of the water for good. When you elect an official, it’s really about the team and that team’s past, present and future. The individuals that officeholders keep around them is a reflection on and of the officeholders, as another governor with presidential aspirations currently making headlines across the country knows only too well.
This is something to watch for in every state capital in the United States, not just in Trenton, N.J. At this point, it’s particularly important in Richmond, since former Gov. Bob McDonnell’s term ended with his star sunk by serious legal trouble associated with the company he kept. It’s no secret Mr. McAuliffe is on the hook of the Clintons’ rod and reel as the former first lady contemplates diving in for a second attempt at breaking through that glass ceiling.
Why should all Americans care? New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was the only Republican beating Hillary Clinton in the polls. Just remember, high-flying fish can flounder and drown.
KAREN ANN DELUCA