Robert Stolarik for The New York Times
Reporters waiting outside Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s apartment at Fifth Avenue and 80th Street for an announcement that never came.
By DANNY HAKIM and ANAHAD O'CONNOR
Published: March 12, 2008
Gov. Eliot Spitzer, reeling from revelations that he had been a client of a prostitution ring, will resign today, some of his staff members said they have been told.
The Public Ordeal of a Private Person (March 12, 2008)
The Spitzer Scandal: Lieutenant Governor Has a History of Defying the Public’s Expectations (March 12, 2008)
Despite Constant Security, Politicians Still Find Trouble (March 12, 2008)
The Reports That Drew Federal Eyes to Spitzer (March 12, 2008)
Foes of Sex Trade Are Stung by the Fall of an Ally (March 12, 2008)
The TV Watch: Mars and Venus Dissect the Spitzer Scandal on the TV Talk Shows (March 12, 2008)
Topic Page: Eliot Spitzer
The scene outside the Capitol on Tuesday. Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who remained in New York, cut himself off from all but the most senior members of his staff.
Mr. Spitzer is scheduled to speak today at 11:30 a.m. at his Manhattan office, and the resignation is to be effective Monday, aides to the governor said.
Lt. Gov. David A. Paterson would likely be sworn to replace him at some point after that.
But because even Mr. Spitzer’s most senior aides have been so surprised by revelations of their boss’s behavior, they said they cannot be certain about a resignation until Mr. Spitzer makes it official.
In the two days since news of Mr. Spitzer’s involvement in the prostitution ring surfaced, he has been engaged in an intense legal and family debate about whether to resign or, as aides said his wife was urging, to stay on. Mr. Spitzer did not emerge from his apartment at Fifth Avenue and 79th Street in Manhattan on Tuesday, as Albany remained roiled and riveted by the deepening crisis, and had not emerged on Wednesday morning
As Mr. Spitzer, a first-term Democrat, contemplated his next move, the New York political world remained in a suspended state, with cries — even from fellow Democrats — growing louder for him to step down.
In one of the last and desperate rounds of the end game, a top Spitzer administration official reached out to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s staff on Tuesday to see if the governor could avoid an impeachment vote.
But only 34 of the more than 100 Democrats in the Assembly would be needed to vote to refer the matter to the Senate for a trial, and it was clear during the discussions that 34 or more Democrats were almost certain to vote against the governor.
That would have been a dire outcome for the governor, because his top political rival, Senate majority leader Joseph L. Bruno, leads the Senate, where a trial would have been held.
“An impeachment proceeding would force Democrats to either abandon him or defend him,” said one leading Democrat. “They would abandon him.”
Sheldon Silver, the Assembly speaker, said Tuesday that Mr. Spitzer should do “what’s best for his family,” but stopped short of calling on the governor to step down. “It is now up to the governor to make a determination that’s best for his family. I pray for his children.” When asked what Mr. Silver thought was best for the Spitzer family, he did not respond.
Mr. Silver offered a few details of a conversation with Mr. Spitzer on Tuesday afternoon that took place before the governor briefly spoke to the public. “I said to him then and I say it now, he’s got to take care of his family first and be concerned about them. I told him that we will carry on in the legislative process that moves the budget forward. We intend to pass our budget tomorrow. I hope the Senate will do the same.”
Mr. Paterson said he had not heard from Mr. Spitzer since about noon on Monday, and did not know whether he would soon be sworn in as the state’s 55th governor.
“The governor called me yesterday,” said Mr. Paterson, who was driven to the Capitol on Tuesday and pondered going inside before deciding to avoid the swarm of journalists. “He said he didn’t resign for a number of reasons, and he didn’t go into the reasons, and that’s the last I’ve heard from him.”
Asked whether preparations for a transition were under way, the lieutenant governor said: “No one has talked to me about his resignation, and no one has talked to me about a transition.”
Mr. Spitzer cut himself off on Tuesday from all but the most senior members of his staff. His lawyer, Michele Hirschman, was reaching out to federal prosecutors to try to strike a deal in hopes of avoiding charges.
Close aides to the governor suggested on Tuesday that the mood in the Spitzer home was tense, with the governor’s wife, Silda Wall Spitzer, recommending that he not step down, but they cautioned that the situation could change at any time.
The revelation of Mr. Spitzer’s involvement with the high-end prostitution ring gripped the nation, and more than 70 reporters and photographers clustered outside the governor’s Upper East Side high-rise on Tuesday, separated from the building by a metal barricade erected by the police.
Three helicopters whirred overhead as tourists atop passing double-decker buses snapped pictures of the scene.
Mr. Spitzer’s patronage of the prostitution agency, Emperor’s Club V.I.P., came to light after prosecutors charged four people with operating the service. They said the governor was intercepted on a federal wiretap arranging payments and an encounter with a prostitute in a Washington hotel room last month. The affidavit referred to a Client 9 and did not identify Mr. Spitzer by name, but law enforcement officials said that Client 9 was the governor.
Investigators reviewing the scope of Mr. Spitzer’s involvement with prostitutes said on Tuesday that just in the past year he had had more than a half-dozen meetings with them and had paid tens of thousands of dollars to the ring, one law enforcement official said.
A person with knowledge of the service’s operations said that Mr. Spitzer had begun meeting with the prostitutes of the Emperor’s Club about eight months ago and had had encounters in Dallas as well as Washington. 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.
In his Washington visit with the prostitute, Mr. Spitzer is said to have used an alias to book one of his rooms at the Mayflower Hotel, the name of a close friend, the financier George Fox.
Mr. Fox released a statement yesterday that said he was surprised and disappointed by Mr. Spitzer’s misuse of his name. “There is absolutely no connection between Mr. Fox and the governor’s alleged activity beyond the unauthorized use of his name,” the statement said.
Authorities were seeking the testimony of the woman known as Kristen, who worked for the Emperor’s Club service and is identified in the criminal complaint as having met with the governor last month in Washington, people briefed on the case said.
The woman is said in the complaint to have typically charged $1,000 an hour.
After her encounter with Client 9, the prostitute told the booker for the agency that it had gone well, and the booker told her that he, in an apparent reference to Client 9, sometimes asked the women “to do things that, like, you might not think were safe.”
Two of the defendants from the escort service were still being held in federal custody on Tuesday. Two other employees, who have been released, declined to discuss their work for what has become a highly publicized business.
“We are too early in this complex investigation for me to make any comment,” said Marc Agnifilo, the lawyer representing one of the bookers, Temeka Lewis.
Mr. Spitzer, who has three daughters, offered a general apology to his family and the people of New York on Monday, but did not address the specific allegations. He said he needed to repair his relationship with his family and decide what was best for the state, but he declined to take questions and his appearance lasted just over a minute.
“I have acted in a way that violates my obligations to my family and violates my, or any, sense of right and wrong,” the governor said. “I apologize first and most importantly to my family. I apologize to the public to whom I promised better.
“I have disappointed and failed to live up to the standard I expected of myself. I must now dedicate some time to regain the trust of my family.”
Despite his expression of contrition, the drumbeat of calls for his resignation became louder, as some Democrats joined in.
Asked if Mr. Spitzer should resign, Darrel J. Aubertine, a newly elected Democratic senator from upstate New York, who got a big boost from the governor’s political operation in his recent campaign, responded: “If the facts remain the way they are, yes.”
He added, “I’m just disappointed, terribly disappointed.”
Representative Kirsten Gillibrand, a freshman Democrat in a swing district north of New York City, expressed sympathy for the governor’s family, but said his staying in office would be untenable.
“If these serious allegations are true, the governor will have no choice but to resign,” she said.
In Albany, the business of government gave way to fevered whispers and speculation about what happens next. And no one seemed to know.
“It’s sort of a theater of the absurd,” said Senator Liz Krueger, a Manhattan Democrat. “Everybody is still a bit shellshocked.”
As the governor pondered his decision, Assemblyman James N. Tedisco, a Republican and the Assembly minority leader, said he would begin moving to have Mr. Spitzer impeached if the governor did not step down within 48 hours.