As of Monday, David Paterson will be the new governor of New York, not to mention the state’s first black governor. And what do his constituents think of him? Well, they don’t really have an opinion. Because most of them heard his name for the first time this week. We surveyed nineteen New Yorkers (and one visitor from Florida) to see what they knew about Governor-designate Paterson. They know a lot more now, thanks to the magic of a sex scandal in the age of the 24-hour news cycle. And being New Yorkers, they have some choice words for Governor-resigned Eliot Spitzer.
We're not really sure what we expected from "Kristen," but when we learned that she was a fresh-faced, seemingly earnest 22-year-old, we realized it wasn't that. We sort of thought the Emperor's Club prostitute that brought down Governor Eliot Spitzer would be some over-made-up 35-year-old with pounds worth of hair extensions and a laugh that sounded like a whinny. But the real "Kristen," a.k.a. Ashley Youmans, is nothing like that. In fact, we kind of like her. Here's what we learned about her, starting last night with a big report in the Times:
• She's from the Jersey Shore, and left when she was 17. And she comes from a "broken home."
• She lives in the Flatiron district. [Ed: That explains everything! And nothing.]
• She's an aspiring singer-songwriter. Her demo, which the Times says uses "dated slang," can be found on her still-live MySpace page.
In one of its more curious repercussions, it looks like Eliot Spitzer’s fall might mean the resurrection of Mayor Bloomberg’s congestion-pricing agenda. The groups pushing for a fee on midtown driving to fund mass-transit improvements say that governor designate David Paterson’s reputation as a conciliator bodes well for brokering a deal on the controversial proposal. As it stands, city and state lawmakers must adopt a proposed pricing plan by March 31 to retain a $354 million federal start-up grant — but that too could now change. The city will likely play the our-state-government-is-in-crisis card, pressing the Feds — who badly want to see New York get the money — to extend the deadline. (An ally of Sheldon Silver sniffed: “The mayor's office has cooked up lots of deadlines and may be cooking up this one, too.”)
Exclusively in our imaginations, that is. We're not sure whether Hillary Clinton, in the past 48 hours, has called Silda Wall Spitzer. But it's not out of the realm of possibility. Clinton is close with the Spitzers, and she did call Dina Matos McGreevey after her ordeal with the whole "My husband's a gay governor" thing to give counsel. So we're just going to assume that she did for a moment (we're not sure you'll ever hear the real story confirmed by her press people anyway — they likely don't want to remind everyone that Hillary for a long time was best known for standing by a philandering husband). We'll never know for sure what might have gone on in such a conversation (until, of course, Silda gives up on Eliot and gets her $3 million book deal), but we do have an idea. Thus, we have constructed for your reading pleasure an imaginary phone conversation between Hillary Clinton and Silda Wall Spitzer:
[A phone rings somewhere in the Spitzer apartment on the Upper East Side. Silda is holed up in the bedroom, reading a copy of Honor Thyself, Danielle Steel's latest best-seller. She does not get up — the thing has been ringing off the hook, and it's always for him. Usually these insistent calls come late at night, after she's thankfully taken a Klonopin and drifted off to sleep. On the other side of the apartment, Eliot is surrounded by advisers in the children's playroom. He is seated precariously on a Playmobil tea table. He picks up the phone.]
Eliot: If this is anyone but the Daily Princetonian, I have no comment, okay?
Hillary: Hello, Eliot.
Eliot: Kristen? Is it you? I've been trying—
Hillary: NO, it's not KRISTEN. God, they always have white-trash names, don't they?
When we were little, our grandpa used to tell us stories about the olden days. "Used to be, you could get a hooker for a dollar!" he'd say. "Those were the days." Sigh. If Grandpa had seen the complaint filed in the bust of Emperor's Club — well, he'd have about keeled over. The preferred escort service of former governor Eliot Spitzer, according to the complaint, charged between $1,000 and $5,000 an hour. And, as one potential prostie was heard to complain, that didn't even include dinner. Inflation affects even the oldest profession, and according The Wall Street Journal, the "wealth boom — and the explosion in the number of multi-millionaires — has created entirely new pricing levels for escorts." Of 661 people who own private jets, a survey from Prince & Associates, a Connecticut-based wealth-research firm, found, 34 percent of males and 20 percent of the females had paid for sex. And that's just of people who owned private jets. If you apply those percentages to, say, people who own BMWs, that's enough to skew the numbers for everyone. But at least one thing remains the same since Grandpa's* day: The most popular reason the people surveyed gave for using escorts was “unique experiences."
How the New Rich Are Changing the Oldest Profession [WSJ]
Earlier: You Can Say This About the Girls of the Emperor's Club: They're No Morons
*We made this bit up. Our real Grampy, God rest his soul, was a wonderful man and a devout Catholic who never ran with loose women. With the exception of his second wife. But they were married.
Per Down by the Hipster, on Monday night Williamsburg tavern Teddy’s capitalized on the Luv Guv’s downfall by serving up a Hypocrite’s Delight special consisting of a $5 Spitzer Spritzer made with — wait a minute — well liquor? We all know Eliot prefers the high end. Maybe the bar at Maze has something more to his liking.
Update: Metromix finds that Spitzer's Corner patrons are indeed in his corner, especially the guy who ponders what cheese might be paired with a Spitzer Spritzer: "This is a sex ring. This is like a Brillat Savarin or a Pierre Robert."
Spitzer Gets Scandal Special [Down by the Hipster]
• How did the New York Times get the Spitzer scoop anyway? [NYO]
• "CNN Admits: We Shouldn't Have Used Alleged Stripper Biter As Spitzer Commentator." [AP via HuffPo]
• Bids for an interviews with "Kristen," the prostitute who slept with "Client 9," are reportedly up to $100,000. [Guest of a Guest]
At a press conference at 11:30 a.m. in his Manhattan offices, Eliot Spitzer announced that he would step down as governor of the State of New York. By his side was his wife, Silda Wall Spitzer, his wife of 21 years, who spent much of the last 48 hours in the same apartment with her husband (but reportedly in different rooms). Below, a rough transcript of his speech:
In the past few days I have begun to atone for my private failures 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.
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 have 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 that I and the people I work with have accomplished a great deal.
Joe Bruno held a press conference just now, and it was well played. Despite the fact that Eliot Spitzer has basically been up until now his mortal enemy, he didn't rub it in that he was totally right when he told New York earlier this month that the governor was “two-faced. He does not tell the truth." Rather, wearing an expression of weary "I-don't-have-time-for-this-perv" resignation, he discussed the possible transition of David Paterson (with whom he has a "great relationship") into the position of governor and went out of his way to make the point that just because someone decided to defy Lord and country by sleeping with hookers doesn't mean that everyone else was going to stop doing their jobs. "There is no pleasure in what is going on in this state," he said. "This is a distraction of proportions we have never experienced. As for Eliot Spitzer, my heart goes out to his wife and his family. He must deal with his problems in his own way."
Related: How Eliot Spitzer Finally Got Joe Bruno on the Ropes [NYM]
Eliot Spitzer has begun telling officials that he will, indeed, resign today, sources say. According to NBC in New York, Eliot Spitzer will issue the statement in written form, rather than during a press conference. (CNN disagrees, claiming that a conference will be held at 11:30.) The television station also reports that the resignation may not go into effect until Monday. Meanwhile, ABC adds that Lieutenant Governor David Paterson has confirmed that the resignation is imminent. A letter, drafted yesterday, is expected be submitted to the secretary of state today. Later today, CBS adds, Paterson will be sworn in as governor up in Albany.
Spitzer to Resign Today [ABC]
Spitzer to Resign Effective Monday [NBC]
THE END IS NEAR [CBS]
Lipstick Jungle's Lindsay Price had a childhood crush on her co-star Andrew McCarthy. Tom Hanks walked past Eliot Spitzer's apartment building on 79th and Fifth, but no one recognized him. A Madonna look-alike ran across the second-floor balcony at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction at the Waldorf-Astoria, providing some levity to an otherwise boring event. Fashion Week will relocate to the Tenth Avenue rail yards after 2010. The Queens livery driver who faked the baby rescue weirdly will appear on an upcoming episode of The Real Housewives of New York City. A documentary about storied Tribeca nightclub the Wetlands opens Friday. Marc Jacobs's boy toy, Jason Preston, got punched in the face outside Hiro after trying to get a guy who had thrown a drink at a girl to apologize.
Poor Silda Wall Spitzer. People are more opinionated about her sticking (at least for the moment) with her husband than they were about Britney Spears and Kevin Federline. Even Tom Hanks's assistant was overheard yesterday wondering how Silda, a former attorney, could stand by her man as he announced to the world that he had had (possibly kinky!) sex with prostitutes. The Times this morning said that it was probably because "she was not yet aware of the extent of the government’s investigation." But despite going all Us Weekly — citing anonymous "friends" saying that the governorship has "strained" Spitzer's marriage "especially in the past few weeks" (what?) — the story ends on a surprisingly hopeful anecdote about the closeness of their relationship. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if Silda and Eliot stayed together?
Just when you thought the Eliot Spitzer story couldn't get any more tawdry, you're totally proven wrong. Okay, okay, everybody knew this was going to get more ridiculous, you're right. Right now the Post Website is reporting that the governor will resign within the hour. So until he does, here's a little catch-up on some of the absurdity we've learned since yesterday:
• Spitzer started his liaisons with Emperor's Club girls eight months ago and met with them in Dallas and Washington. Also, a "law enforcement official said Mr. Spitzer also had an encounter with a prostitute in Florida. On some trips of several days’ duration, Mr. Spitzer scheduled more than one visit with a prostitute, this person said." [NYT]
• Over ten years, Spitzer spent up to $80,000 on prostitutes, according to sources. [NYP]
• On February 13, just before his tryst with "Kristen," Spitzer was wandering through the lobby of the Mayflower Hotel asking his aides if they had a "classical music CD," apparently to set the mood. [NYP]
At the annual Women's Campaign Fund dinner last night at the home of Community Board One's Julie Menin, City Comptroller William Thompson had a wry sense of humor about yesterday's scandalous revelations regarding Eliot Spitzer and a gaggle of high-end prostitutes. "I wonder what we'll be talking about this evening?" Thompson had already cracked twice before he made it all the way into the party. Thompson called Spitzer "a friend" and expressed "shock and disbelief" about the recent news. While he stopped short of calling for the governor's resignation, he expressed the obvious concern. "I think it is very difficult to govern in the current situation." He was not as reticent in his views about Spitzer's possible successor, Lieutenant Governor David A. Paterson. "While Eliot's a friend, David's a very good friend." Thompson went on to express his belief that as minority leader Paterson helped to change the Democratic Senate, that they became much more aggressive and idea-focused under his guidance. "I think the world of him; he is such a talented person." —Catherine CorenoEarlier:Reacting to Eliot's Mess
Jann Wenner isn't the only one who finds Barack Obama "Lincolnesque in his own origins, his sobriety and what history now demands." Tony Kushner is working on a screenplay for Steven Spielberg based on Team of Rivals, Doris Kearns Goodwin's book about Lincoln's last two years as president before he was assassinated. "He could bring together people of wildly disparate ideological bents and remind them of the moral core of their visions," gushed Kushner about Honest Abe last night at a benefit dinner for Gay Men's Health Crisis. "He brought into his Cabinet people who hated each other." Would Lincoln, that original Log Cabin Republican, be a GOPer today? "Absolutely not," the Kush assured. "He was a deeply progressive man and a deep believer in the Constitution. Any party that could make George Bush, who has raped the Constitution, is not one that Abe Lincoln would want anything to do with." Well! So, uh, WWAD (that's Who Would Abe Endorse?) in '08? Kushner: OHB, of course! "They're both from Illinois. You can really trace a line from the politics of Lincoln through American pragmatism to the politics of Barack Obama." Okay. And how would he weigh in on the Spitzer flame-out?
Yesterday we received word from multiple reliable sources that Spitzer was planning on getting the whole thing over with last night. We weren't sure, but it sounded like there was to be an evening press conference, during which Spitzer officially resigned and David Paterson was sworn in as governor. But that never came to pass. Now Spitzer has wiped his schedule clean of public events and is hunkered down with advisers. Meanwhile, much of the mainstream media and many political rivals are calling for his head. As the New York Timespointed out, "any politician would have a full-time job just dealing with such revelations." It seems impossible that Spitzer would be able to continue on as governor (in about 24 hours state Republicans will start impeachment proceedings against him), and yet he hasn't resigned. What gives? Some theories:
• In preparation for a day in which he may have to face prosecution over his role in the Emperor's Club prostitution debacle, stepping down from the governorship would be a great trump card. He could use it as a big sacrifice in any deal, saving himself from other punishments like fines, disbarment, or jail time. [National Review]
• He could be destroying documents or evidence, suggests DealBreaker. Though it sounds far-fetched, a private security expert tells them that the reason executives under investigation at big companies are immediately escorted out of the building is so that they can't do that. "They should have the FBI there right now to prevent Spitzer from deleting his hard-drives," their source argues. [DealBreaker]
This Spitzer business is just about the only thing that could have overshadowed coverage of the presidential race (there’s a primary today, remember? Anybody?), but it pertains to Clinton, too. Spitzer is a superdelegate pledged to Hillary Clinton — until he resigns, at least, which is widely expected. Once he does, Spitzer will lose his vote, and another superdelegate pledged to Clinton, Lieutenant Governor David Paterson, will take his seat. Paterson can't vote twice, so in effect, that means the total superdelegate count goes down by one — and Clinton loses one of her precious votes. But there is a slim hope for the delegate-starved Clinton yet.
The Today show invited noted moralist Dr. Laura Schlessinger on to promote her book Stop Whining and Start Living and to discuss Eliot Spitzer's sex scandal this morning. But they seemed surprised when, predictably, she acted Dr. Laura–ish: “When the wife does not focus in on the needs and the feelings, sexually, personally, to make him feel like a man, to make him feel like a success, to make him feel like her hero, he’s very susceptible to the charm of some other woman making him feel what he needs,” Schlessinger said.
Today hostesses Meredith Viera, Ann Curry, and Hoda Kotb stared at her. There was palpable silence. It was awkward, even for us at home.
Finally, Viera managed to speak: “You’re saying the women should feel guilty that they somehow drove the man to cheat?” she asked.
“The cheating was his decision to repair what’s damaged and to feed himself where he’s starving,” Schlessinger explained. “But, yes, I hold women responsible for tossing out perfectly good men by not treating them with the love and kindness and respect and attention they need.”
Right, because Spitzer was clearly a perfectly good man. Jezebel has video if you'd like to give yourself that nice, midday outraged feeling.
Dr. Laura: Women share blame for cheating men [MSNBC]