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Eliot Spitzer

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A Money-er Honey?

CNBC "Money Honey" Maria Bartiromo is jealous of co-worker Erin Burnett because Burnett is becoming more popular than she is. An upcoming book about Katie Couric claims she planned to leave NBC a year before she actually did and that the staff of 60 Minutes thinks she's a "lightweight." State Senator Carl Kruger is not a fan of fellow Democrat Eliot Spitzer. Jeremy Shockey took a bunch of Giants teammates to Scores. The woman who blogged about Keith Olbermann's bedside manners is no longer maintaining her blog. Naomi Watts finally gave birth. Nora Ephron has spent a lot of time giving her breasts a workout. Christie Brinkley is spending $10.9 million to buy the house in North Haven next door to the one where Peter Cook had an affair.

Taking Pleasure in a Self-Righteous Prick's Misfortune

This Spitzer mess is making at least one group of people — well, another group of people, after State Senate Republicans — very happy. Financiers are predictably cackling, especially those who have gone through what a lawyer for tycoon Richard Strong calls "the Eliot process." (As A.G., Spitzer made Strong fork over $60 million and accept a lifetime ban from Wall Street for improper trading.) It's a testament to the lasting effects of the process, however, that the Times fails to get any of the big fish to slander the guv on or even off the record. Instead, we get "a senior banker" quipping that "it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy" and "an executive" intoning "what goes around comes around." Bo-ring! We want more color: Hank Greenberg yelling "Who's the fraud now?!" or Dick Grasso doing a little revenge dance. Of course, as a reader of The Wall Street Journal's Law Blog — which coins the term "Spitzerfreude" — sagely notes, "This relatively small scandal certainly doesn't mean that Grasso and Greenberg are not thieves." True, that. Spitzer’s Woes Are Enjoyed on Wall Street [NYT] Spitzer Schadenfreude [Law Blog/WSJ]

Mr. Ethics, Meet the Ethics Board

• The newest chapter in the fast-developing Spitzer scandal: The State Ethics Commission, which definitely has subpoena power, has joined the State Senate in requesting the documents from the Bruno investigation. Not looking good. [amNY]

Today in Albany: Spitzer's on Defense, Bruno's on Offense, and the ‘Post’ Hates Everyone

The latest news from Albany finds the principals in the Spitzer-Bruno-Cuomo battle defining and refining their positions. Last night, the governor finally abandoned what New York's Steve Fishman called his "silly business-as-usual tactic" and deigned to hand-feed his side of the story to the Daily News. New York's Hometown Paper reports today that Joe Bruno's constant requests to use state aircraft were well known in Albany even before Day One; they became "almost a punch line" after Spitzer inauguration, when, the governor says, people would "just roll their eyes." Still, Spitzer didn't know his own top aides were scheming to expose Bruno, he told the News — and even if he did, the State Senate doesn't have subpoena power over the executive branch anyway. You may notice that these three statements clash with each other slightly, but, hey, he's new at this weaseling-out-of-tight-spots thing. He'll get better.

Bruno's Turn

• With the Spitzer camp circling the wagons, it's Joe Bruno's hour, and he's taking full advantage of it: The State Senate leader called for multiple investigations into the administration, vowing, "This is not going to go away." [NYP]

Steve Fishman: Spitzer's Finally Fighting Back, But Is He Eliot Reagan?

Governor Spitzer finally abandoned his silly business-as-usual tactic today, giving up the “I’m going to get back to doing the people’s business” that invariably means something is amiss. The Republican-led State Senate had suggested that it might act like a real legislative body, one with oversight responsibilities and subpoena powers, and investigate whether the governor knew that a top aide was tracking Senate leader Joe Bruno’s use of state vehicles. And Spitzer finally broke his silence on the burgeoning scandal to warn the senator that, in effect, the senators shouldn't punch above their weight. Never one to be outlawyered, the governor has apparently been reading up on the state constitution, and he charged in a statement that New York's Senate does not have the constitutional authority to investigate the executive branch. In other words, he seemed to say that he won't cooperate with any investigation and will instead invoke an Empire State version executive privilege. Whether the potential drama of a constitutional showdown will, in fact, entice the Republican Senate remains to be seen.

As Spitzer Sinks Deeper, Cuomo Rides High

The main takeaway from the first days of what now promises to be a long, hard slog for the governor is how strangely unprepared the Spitzer machine seems for dealing with an internal crisis. This is, of course, ironic on several levels: As the crusading A.G., Spitzer has thrown many a Wall Street firm into the same kind of cooperation-pledging, aide-dismissing, ass-covering tizzy his administration appears to be experiencing right now. Today’s Post and Times point out that, despite the governor’s claim of full cooperation with Cuomo, two of his top aides — including his chief of staff — refused to talk to the attorney general's investigators. That such a Nixonian disconnect between Team Spitz's statements and actions should surface so fast is just plain embarrassing; worse, the question the two staffers appeared to be unwilling to answer concerns the degree of Spitzer’s involvement with the unpleasantness at hand (the use of state police to spy on Joe Bruno).

A Spitzer Stonewall?

• The Spitzer mess is getting, well, messier. Turns out two of guv’s closest aides, including his chief of staff (who still has his job), stonewalled Cuomo’s probe, which doesn’t quite jibe with Spitzer’s claims of full cooperation. [NYP] • Police-shooting victim Sean Bell’s fiancée and two friends have sued the NYPD for wrongful death, civil-rights violations, false arrest, and emotional distress; the suit names all five officers who were on the scene, including two who were cleared of wrongdoing. [Reuters] • Because more than 24 hours have passed without any agonizing over Bloomberg’s presidential plans and how they might affect the race, you’ll be happy to know he’s registered the domain mike2008.com (while continuing to maintain full deniability). [NYDN] • Shocker: The new MTA budget will call for subway fare and toll increases. We don’t know by how much yet, but they want to raise the revenue by 6.5 percent; do your own worst-case-scenario math. [NYT] • And the city’s cab drivers are finalizing citywide strike plans for September, over those pesky GPS tracking systems the city wants to install in every cab. We think we’ll just stay home. [amNY]

Spitzer's Bad Day, Cont'd: The Lieutenant Governor Passes Out

As if Governor Spitzer wasn't already having a pretty shitty day, now there's this: His lieutenant governor, David Paterson, passed out on a flight from La Guardia to Buffalo today; the plane was met by paramedics in Buffalo, where he remains hospitalized. "There is a little lovefest some of us here have with him," Paterson told Steve Fishman for his Spitzer profile last week. Maybe his heart's been broken? Press release from the L.G.'s office after the jump.

Steamroller Stalled: Could You See It Coming?

In a nutshell: In an effort to score political points by claiming his nemesis, Joe Bruno, was inappropriately using state resources (aircraft, cars, troopers) to travel to political events, Eliot Spitzer, or at least people working for Eliot Spitzer, inappropriately used state resources (the state police) to carry out their oppo research. A.G. Andrew Cuomo released a report yesterday saying so, and saying, incidentally, that Bruno hadn't actually done anything wrong. Spitzer indefinitely suspended one aide, transferred another out of the governor's office, and denied any knowledge of what they were up to; Republicans are skeptical he was really so oblivious. So much for being the White Knight, eh? In last week's New York, Steve Fishman profiled the governor and examined his (many) feuds with other state officials, most notably Bruno. There's lots of fun foreshadowing.

And on Day 204, Everything Changed Back

• Governor Spitzer has dismissed one top aide and suspended another for (a) essentially spying on Joe Bruno and (b) concocting a cover-up for it. But what did Spitzer know, and when did he know it? [NYT] • In the meantime, Bruno's vacation is ruined anyway: The Legislature has agreed to reconvene on Thursday to begin discussing a "compromise" on congestion pricing. [NYDN] • The so-called YouTube debate on CNN last night wasn't just an exercise in cross-branding; it delivered some full-on madness, including a talking snowman grilling Hillary Clinton on climate change and a Second Amendment question from a man holding a gun. [NYP] • Eighteen years after pleading guilty to sex crimes — and then denying his guilt, and then having a movie made about him — convicted child molester Jesse Friedman may be vindicated. A new hearing will introduce evidence that police may have tampered with a young accuser. [amNY] • And, Newt Gingrich says Mike Bloomberg's "entire basis of survival is paying $91 a vote" in 2005. Remind us what Newt Gingrich's basis for survival is again? [NYS]

Behold the Power of Crumbling Infrastructure

• Families of 9/11 victims are upset — are the families of 9/11 victims ever not upset? — because the city plans to commemorate the attacks' sixth anniversary in the small Zuccotti park. Instead of, you know, in the middle of a giant construction site. [amNY]

Bloomberg, Spitzer Prompt Conceptual Breakthrough: Could It Be Better Not to Be an Asshole?

We have — we have always had — a soft spot in our heart for those who can expertly muster and deploy arrogance, obnoxiousness, self- righteousness, and general assholery. (No, there's no particular reason we appreciate those traits. Ahem.) This is one of many reasons we have admired both our governor and our mayor. But this week there's some bad news. First, Steve Fishman's cover profile in the magazine showed that Eliot Spitzer's trademark and self-assured aggressive intransigence may not be working for him and may well actually be working against him. Then come reports today that Mike Bloomberg's trademark and self-assured mellow certitude could have been what did in his congestion- pricing plan.

Joe Bruno's Spitzer Peace Plan

Eliot Spitzer's epic feud with Joe Bruno has been lots of fun for headline writers and politics watchers, if perhaps not so good for Albany's effective functioning. But here's a funny thing: As Steve Fishman reports in this week's cover story, their big fight didn't even have to happen. In the last days of the legislative session, about a month ago, Bruno approached Spitzer with the idea of a non-aggression pact: He'd support the governor's cherished campaign-finance proposal if the governor would agree not to campaign against Senate Republicans. The plan to reduce the money flowing into state politics is “Spitzer’s obsession,” Bruno told Fishman, but the Republican leader wouldn't disarm in the face of a wealthy, powerful governor determined to break the GOP's hold on the Senate. Under Bruno's deal, Spitzer would get the campaign-finance reform he wanted, Bruno would get protection, and both would be able to move forward on four or five pieces of legislation caught in the crossfire. But Spitzer would agree merely to congratulate the Republicans if they helped push his agenda. “That’s not good enough,” Bruno told him, according to Fishman's source. And a few days later they were at war. The Steamroller in the Swamp [NYM]

Damn You, John Stossel

At Live Earth, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and John Stossel continued their public feud over global warming. Ron Perelman and Gina Gershon are hanging out on Perelman's yacht off the coast of Italy, but they may not be dating. Eliot Spitzer and Charles Schumer are weekend telephone buddies. Former Bronx congressman Mario Biaggi no longer holds a grudge against Rudy Giuliani, even though Giuliani successfully prosecuted him for bribery twenty years ago. Al D'Amato is happy he's going to be a father again. Mel Gibson bought a $39.5 million estate in Greenwich, Connecticut. NBC accidentally featured Katie Couric in a Today-show promo. Hillary Clinton is hosting three Hamptons fund-raisers the first weekend of August.

Will Silver Make Bloomberg's Traffic Dream Come True? He Just Might, Says Spokesman

This week's consensus has been that Bloomberg's congestion-pricing plan is doomed because the legislature won't act in time to get the federal money, and that the legislature won't act in time because Shelly Silver isn't interested in playing ball. But are things changing? Today's Daily News reports that Silver late yesterday talked with both Governor Spitzer and State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, both congestion-pricing proponents, about the plan (separately, of course). And this morning we had an interesting conversation with Silver's spokesman. "To say he's willing to let this expire would not be an accurate thing to say," press secretary Dan Weiller told us. Oh, really? Hmm. —Alec Appelbaum Shelly Un-Congests Snag [NYDN] Earlier: Does Bloomberg Know His Congestion-Pricing Battle Is Lost?

It's Not Easy Being a Steamroller

• Eliot Spitzer admits to the Times that his feud with Joe Bruno has become "ugly" and "eclipse[d] all discussion of policy and legislation." Plus, all the personal attacks are upsetting Mrs. Spitzer, who now regrets her husband didn't go into real estate. [NYT] • The city is opening 290 "cooling centers" to help New Yorkers beat the heat; "I don't care how strong you are, you should take some precautions," Mayor Bloomberg declared, sounding even more like a testy grandmother than usual. [amNY] • Now this is getting interesting: The Department of Transportation under Janette Sadik-Khan is trying to hire Danish planner Jan Gehl as a consultant (as Daily Intel reported two weeks ago), and now word is that his proposals include banning cars from Times Square. [NYDN] • At the Phil Spector trial, the judge has allowed in a piece of blockbuster testimony from the producer's bodyguard — who says he's heard Spector say "all women should be shot in the head." [WNBC] • And a Manhattan psychologist, William Swan, is accused of groping a prospective assistant during an interview and showing her porn to boost her "assertiveness." In an apparent triumph, she's now assertive enough to sue and go to the press. [NYP]

Just Say No

• Hidden among other traffic-reducing measures in New York's application for federal congestion-pricing funds is a doozy: Just Stay Home. One of the proposed changes is "telecommuting as a travel demand management strategy." [Metro NY] • The Post, firmly on Joe's side in the Bruno-Spitzer battle, reports that Spitzer's aides pretty much begged anyone with a badge to investigate the state senator (including, unsuccessfully, "at least one New York City D.A." — how many of those do we have?). [NYP] • Despite "experts" insisting that the Bancroft-Murdoch deal is done, the Dow Jones board will be meeting with Ron Burkle today. In the meantime, Journal defections start: A top editor is moving to Business Week. [NYT] • The first week the new noise regulations were in effect prove one thing: We're a city of nasty little tattletales. The top complaint to 311 — almost half of the calls — concerned not construction clatter or Mister Softee but noisy neighbors. [NYDN] • And here's a free mobile service that puts Google Maps to shame. Should you ever find yourself lost in the Manhattan grid with nowhere to relieve yourself, mizpee.com will send you the address of the "closest, cleanest" restroom. You know, in case you lose the ability to walk into a hotel lobby on your own. [NYDN]

The Thrilla in Albany

• The battle royale between Joe Bruno and Eliot Spitzer — and maybe, a little bit, the Albany Times Union — continues to heat up. Now the embattled State Senate majority leader says he'll activate a senate committee to investigate the guv — and start issuing subpoenas. [NYP] • Another week, another power outage: About 2,500 Upper East Siders lost their electricity again last night, this time after an underground fire. Blacking out 10021 twice in ten days can't be good for business. [Reuters] • Turns out that while he was preparing to decamp the GOP, Mike Bloomberg was privately bombarding the state Republicans with messages of support — including pledges to back some Dem-targeted senators' 2008 campaigns. Now that's triangulation. [NYT] • The new noise regulations have barely gone into effect, and already dozens of businesses have been busted — including a Mister Softee truck caught blasting the jingle in a residential area. [amNY] • And the Statue of Liberty is increasingly unlikely to make it onto the modern "seven wonders of the world" list currently being compiled. As the massive poll draws to a close with over 90 million votes cast, the poor green thing is languishing at the bottom, with the likes of the Kremlin and Stonehenge. [NYDN]

Bruno Challenges Spitzer to Meet Him After School at the Flagpole

You're always hearing about how Albany is broken and dysfunctional and doesn't work like any other legislative seat. And people are always saying that like it's a bad thing. It occurs to us this morning, however, that maybe it's not. Maybe Albany's dysfunction is refreshing: As Eliot Spitzer is siccing both the state attorney general and Albany County's D.A. on Joe Bruno for what the steamroller is alleging is Hevesian misuse of state aircraft and state troopers, Bruno isn't firing back with any of that "my distinguished opponent" crap. Here's the Senate leader yesterday, as quoted in the Times:
[Spitzer is] an overgrown rich spoiled brat who has tantrums all over the place [and is] too temperamental to be the chief executive of 19 million people. [He] does not understand that he is not a dictator, he is not a tyrant, he is not a king. … I grew up in the toughest part of Glens Falls, next to the boxcars, where kids would come up to you when you weighed 90 pounds and they weighed 120 and just punch you right in the mouth just because you were Italian, O.K., or just because you lived next to the boxcars, or just because they felt like it. That’s how I grew up, O.K.? So swing away.
Is it wrong that we're now hoping this turns into a fistfight? (Actually, yes, it probably is: We imagine Bruno would win. He comes from the tough part of Glens Falls, after all.) State-Financed Trips Weren't Improper, Bruno Says [NYT]