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Eliot Spitzer

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Spitzer's New Pal: Charlie Rangel

Once upon a time, Charlie Rangel was the kind of entrenched political boss reformer Eliot Spitzer was trying to remove from the conversation. And once upon a time, Spitzer was the kind of steamrolling, prosecutorial, holier-than-thou Ivy Leaguer Rangel snidely termed "the smartest man in the world." Spitzer ditched Rangel's lieutenant-governor suggestion at last minute; Rangel dubbed Spitzer's plan to reduce health-care costs "disastrous." Now the two are about to step into a joint press conference to present a plan to protect health care for children. Strange bedfellows, indeed. What gives? According to a source close to Spitzer, making nice with Rangel is part of the embattled governor's plan to reach out to old foes and shore up his political backing. "The governor is now looking to places where he never used to for support," the source says. And Rangel sees Spitzer's problems as presenting an opportunity to get a deal he likes, a source close to Rangel says. "The governor is certainly in need of some friends right now," the source says. In exchange for political cover, Rangel is looking to pick up "chits," the Rangel source says. "There are a lot of projects in New York that Charlie cares about, and I'm sure the governor is taking that into account." —Geoffrey Gray

Spitzer Gets New Advice; Bob Rubin Gets New Glasses

So what has Bruno-trooper aircraft-abuse-of power-gate taught Eliot Spitzer? That it might be worth it to, uh, get some advice. (Breakthrough!) According to today's Times, the Steamroller, in an atypical move, has started taking counsel from people other than his usual yesmen. Who are the éminences grises to whom he's speaking? Real-estate heavyweight Jerry Speyer, Republican and former Bruno aide Abraham M. Lackman, and beloved former Clinton Treasury secretary Bob Rubin — who, judging from the accompanying picture on the Times site has recently picked up a très hip pair of heavy-rimmed, almost Mike Nichols–ish spectacles. Rich, Jewish, and now a foxy silver fox? Grr, Mr. Rubin. Grr. Rethinking Bold Style, Spitzer Gets New Advice [NYT]

Stone Quits

• GOP consultant Roger Stone resigned his job with the state Republican Party over that call to Pa Spitzer, but he still maintains — busted alibi and all — that Democratic operatives may have just broken into his house and made the call from his phone while using some kind of high-tech device to impersonate his voice. Ya-huh. [NYT]

Roger Stone's Alibi: No ‘Frost/Nixon’ on Monday Nights

Everyone agrees that, whatever else happened, the bizarre late-night phone call to Eliot Spitzer's dad was made on the evening of August 6, a bit before 10 p.m. Bernard Spitzer's lawyers says it came from Roger Stone, a Republican consultant; Stone says Democratic operatives broke into his Central Park South apartment and used his phone to frame him. He couldn't have made the call, Stone said in a statement posted to his Website, because "[o]n the night this call was allegedly made, I was at the theater catching the play NIXON and FROST [sic]." We'll ignore the ironies that Nixon is modern politics' greatest dirty trickster, that Stone worked for Nixon, and that the fulcrum of Frost/Nixon is a (fictional) bizarre late-night phone call. We'll just note this: August 6, 2007, was a Monday. And like many Broadway shows, the play, which closed this weekend, took that night off. "We were completely dark on Mondays," a rep from its management company told us. —Geoffrey Gray

Albany Drama Amps Up As GOP Aide Lashes Out at Spitzer Family

Eliot Spitzer
Oh, yes. Just when the hullabaloo over Eliot Spitzer's "Dirty Tricks" scandal was finally dying down a bit, an aide to his foe Joe Bruno has allegedly gone bonkers. Roger Stone, a prominent GOP consultant, is accused of having left a ranting voice mail on the answering machine of Spitzer's father, Bernard. Drudging up an old issue over controversial loans the elder Spitzer made to his son, Stone is said to have raged, "You will be subpoenaed to testify before the Senate committee on investigations … and there's not a goddamn thing your phony, psycho, piece-of-shit son can do about it!"

Standpipe Cut

• As Robert Morgenthau's office starts a criminal investigation of the Deutsche Bank blaze that killed two firefighters, it turns out that the faulty standpipe had been deliberately cut — and recently. [NYP]

Joe Bruno, Eliot Spitzer Ruin It for Everybody

• One actual result of Troopergate (Brunogate? Spitzergate?): The State Ethics Commission passed a new rule preventing officials from using state aircraft unless the primary purpose of their trip is state business and requiring reimbursement for those parts that are not. [NYT]

The Islamofascist Handbook

• To aid in terrorism surveillance, the NYPD has released a jihadi version of The Preppy Handbook, detailing how average Muslim schlubs morph into Islamic terrorists. Grow a beard, renounce booze and broads, play paintball war games, dis the U.S. a lot — you know the drill. [NYDN]

Bus Stop

• Sure, the Feds promised Bloomberg $354 million for his traffic-reduction plan (if he can get the city and state to pass it), but that dough's mainly to put up new bus depots. Of the roughly $200 mil needed to charge drivers entering Manhattan, Uncle Sam's promised only $10 million. [NYT]

Eliot Spitzer Comes Out of His Closet

Our embattled governor took a Sunday trip to Watkins Glen — it's most of the way to Rochester, just west of Ithaca — to see the NASCAR races, and he ended up spending nearly nine hours at the track. Friends and foes alike were surprised to see him there, serving as grand marshal and seeming to enjoy himself immensely. As the Times puts it, it’s not exactly the sport of an "Upper East Sider with the Princeton and Harvard education and the reputation for a hyperkinetic braininess" (ed. note: wha?). But his NASCAR cred is real — he’s a longtime Jeff Gordon fan, knows the ins and outs of different national tracks, and can correctly use words like "restrictor plates" and "carburetor" (ed. note, again: wha?). As surprised as we city folk may be that our urbane gov might be riveted by stock cars, an upstate NASCAR fan raises an even better question: "What’s NASCAR doing putting a Democrat on TV?" Indeed. Next thing you know, there'll be Republicans on PBS. Spitzer in His Element at NASCAR Race[NYT] Related: NASCAR Guv [NYM]

Spitzer Brings in PR-Fight Reinforcements

Embroiled in a dogfight with Joe Bruno over what he knew and when he knew it, Governor Spitzer is ramping up his press offensive in Albany, hoping to turn the tide on a story that hasn't looked good and won't seem to end. Late last week, the State Democratic Party hired the PR firm that successfully fought to block the Starrett City sale earlier this year to handle Spitzer's wartime press against Bruno and his fellow Republicans in the State Senate. Jonathan Rosen, a principal of the firm, BerlinRosen, says he spoke with Spitzer chief of staff Richard Baum several times last week before accepting the gig. Now, though, he's raring to go. "The Senate investigative hearings are like the legislative equivalent of O.J. Simpson's hunt for the real killer," he told us, taking his new talking points out for a spin. "They're over the top, they're overplaying their hand badly, and it's going to backfire." His new client is sure hoping so. —Geoffrey Gray

Std Clr of Clsg Dors, Pls

• In the wake of the Great Subway Flood, city-council members are demanding that the MTA spend some $300 million to provide cell service on subway platforms — so that the transit agency can send riders jumbled, unintelligible text messages in the event of delays. [Metro NY]

Sheriff Andy?

• Andrew Cuomo, getting a feel for this whole crusading-A.G. thing, is asking the legislature to grant his office broad jurisdiction and subpoena powers. Our new awesome conspiracy theory: He gets the state GOP to empower him by promising them Spitzer's head — and then subpoenas Bruno! [NYS]

And Spitzer Wonders, Still He Wonders, Who'll Drain the Rain

It was a rough day for the MTA. And at a press conference this afternoon Eliot Spitzer revealed just how bad. The subway system is designed to drain up to an inch and a half of rainfall, he said; this storm inundated it with three inches in a frenzied hour. That made for what Spitzer said "is supposed to be a highly unusual event" — except for one thing: It's the third time this year that's happened. The puddling problem wasn't this morning's only calamity — MTA executive director Lee Sander later cited a downed tree near Stillwell Avenue and smoke in tunnels — but it was the most severe. At the governor's insistence, the MTA will take 30 days, or thereabouts, to research how it might bolster the drains. When it's announced, expect a round of wrangling among MTA leaders, state legislators, unions, and the rest. And perhaps buy yourself a kayak. —Alec Appelbaum

Spitzer's Master Class: Steamrolling With Soul

The Spitz used a speaking engagement last night at the Chautauqua Institution — a nonprofit, religious-tinged retreat in Western New York — to declaim on a topic that made Brunogate watchers prick up their ears: "The Need for Both Passion and Humility in Politics." The text of the speech then landed on the Huffington Post (where we especially dug the "I'm a fan of this blogger" tab next to Spitzer's name), where we encountered it. What did the erstwhile Steamroller have to say? Those expecting some sort of mea culpa get one, and those expecting lots of fancy equivocation got that, too — but first everyone sat through a monumental history lesson.

Ba Ba Ba, Ba Barbaralee

Hollywood players like Ben Stiller, Toby Maguire, and Steven Spielberg can't figure out which Democrat to support for president, so they're donating to multiple ones. (Tom Hanks, Will Smith, and Jennifer Aniston, however, are firmly in Camp Obama.) Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel was passed over for appointment as executive director of New York State Council of the Arts, perhaps because she has donated money to Spitzer, who's now trying to look ethically pure. Gwen Stefani loves breast-feeding even though she's been getting bitten. Ashlee Simpson and Pete Wentz refused to be photographed with their KY Intimacy Kit swag bags at Lollapalooza because they were scared of Joe Simpson. Tracy Morgan wants to get his SCRAM ankle bracelet "blinged out" at Jacob the Jeweler.

Death at NYU

• The daughter of two prominent NYU professors was discovered dead in a university-owned apartment in Washington Square Village. If it's a homicide, expect it on Law & Order when the new season starts. [amNY]

Follow the E-mail

• The Post, in another damning Spitzer exclusive (it's almost as if someone well connected in Albany hated the governor!), claims the administration is hiding a trove of private scandal-related e-mails, which Attorney General Cuomo, lacking subpoena power, didn't get. [NYP]

All the Governor's Men: Where Are They Now?

Let's check up on the first crop of heads to have rolled out of Albany in the Spitzer scandal! When the news of the administration's vendetta against Joe Bruno broke, Spitzer quickly got rid of communications director Darren Dopp and state-police liaison William Howard, suspending Dopp and saying Howard would be "reassigned to a position outside of the governor's office." We'll take the second one first. Has Howard been reassigned? Well, yes, sort of. Turns out Howard was technically "on loan" to the administration to begin with. Today's Sun finds him comfortably spinning his wheels back at SUNY, where he enjoys a $175,900 salary as the director of something called the Center of Homeland Security Research, Training and Education. But things look bleaker for Dopp, who had no such sinecure to fall back on and has now retained a prominent lawyer. The Times, which is sympathetic to the ex-reporter and all but called him a fall guy in a recent profile, hands today's lede to Dopp's lawyer for a few choice words about Cuomo. The Post, however, begs to differ. The headline there is "Disgraced Spitzer Crony Lawyers Up." Odd: One would think the "Dopp wuz framed" narrative would appeal to them even more. Albany Poser: What Happened to Howard? [NYS] Suspended Spitzer Assistant Is Blameless, His Lawyer Says [NYT] Disgraced Spitzer Crony Lawyers Up [NYP]