Eliot Spitzer has been caught using the power of his office to go after his enemies. Wow, what a surprise. Frequent readers of this blog will know I don't think much of Spitzer, who tended to overreach his office all the way back to student government at Princeton. What I found surprising, though, was this quote from the NY Times:
The report was a blow to Mr. Spitzer, a former prosecutor who came into
office less than seven months ago with a reputation for integrity and
who promised to bring a new ethical climate to Albany.
A reputation for integrity with whom? Mr. Spitzer, as attorney general, was a sort of liberal bookend to George W. Bush, consistently exceeding the limits of his authority to achieve some goal he argued trumped a narrow reading of the law. His supporters, just as Bush's do, justify his overreaching his office on the grounds that the ends justified the means, in Spitzer's case the assault on various corporate and Wall Street firms liberals were frustrated that Washington would not pursue. Critics like myself argued that many of his crusades were abuses of his prosecutorial office to pursue personal vendetta's and to generate headlines to position himself for a run for governor.
I would think that any reasonable definition of "integrity" when applied to an attorney general would include a respect for the letter of the law, something that even his supporters would probably admit Spitzer cast aside when he thought it was for a good cause. The only interpretation of "integrity" I can come up with in the context of this article is that Spitzer had integrity in the past because his abuses of power were in pursuit of causes the author agreed with.
Look, this is the man that began supporting campaign finance limitations, which tend to support incumbents, starting the day after he became an incumbent. This is the man who described himself as governor thus: "I
am a fucking steamroller and I'll roll over you or anybody else". This is the man who involved the State of New York and the courts in a private compensation deal, just to burnish his populist credentials. In the latter trial, he explicitly left prominent Democrats who had the most involvement with the deal alone and indicted side figures who were Republicans. Tom Kirkendall has a much longer bill of particulars against Spitzer here.