- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 11, 2008

New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer had but one option.

Last week, federal law enforcers unveiled an investigation into an online, interstate prostitution ring. Four persons were arrested, including the suspected ring leader. The New York Times reported yesterday that the wiretap recording of the investigation “captured a man identified as Client 9,” and that Client 9 confirmed “plans to have a woman travel from New York to Washington, where he had reserved a [hotel] room.” Mr. Spitzer and Client 9 are reportedly one in the same.

On the national scene for nearly two decades, Mr. Spitzer was in private law practice briefly before becoming a district attorney and chief New York prosecutor. Mr. Spitzer made national headlines along the way, successfully prosecuting everything from financial malfeasance to prostitution rings — with the former earning him the nickname Mr. Clean of Wall Street. Mr. Spitzer also considered smoking an outlaw, but wanted to grant illegal aliens state driver’s licenses.

Now, however, Mr. Spitzer is viewing the bar differently. The New York Times reported that the governor’s staff learned Friday — one day after the unveiling of the federal probe in the prostitution case — that the governor had been implicated. Mr. Spitzer himself spoke with his staff on Sunday, and yesterday he offered a televised apology: “I have acted in a way that violated the 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.”

If this were a matter of mere indiscretion, we probably would not voice an opinion. Indeed, sexual innuendo and the breaking of marriage vows are usually solely between the offender and the offended. Such is not Mr. Spitzer’s case, however. The governor all but conceded yesterday that he had been caught with a woman not his wife and had broken the law.

Mr. Spitzer and the four suspects charged in the prostitution ring face allegations of no small measure. The suspects face charges stemming from the Mann Act, which Congress passed in 1910 to stanch not only sexual perversity and the immorality of prostitution but human trafficking. It is against the law to transport a person from one state to another for the purpose of prostitution.

Interestingly, clients (or “johns” in the street vernacular) are often ignored by prosecutors in prostitution cases, which are usually considered state crimes. This case is different because the ring was an interstate operation. The business called itself Emperors Club VIP, and charged clients as much as $5,500 an hour. It was on the night of Feb. 13 that Mr. Spitzer allegedly met an “employee” of the Emperors Club in a Washington hotel room.

Mr. Spitzer — husband, father of three girls, law-and-order icon — knew he was out of options before he faced the microphones yesterday in Manhattan.

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