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Eliot Laurence Spitzer was born in 1959 in the Bronx, New York City, the son of Anne (née Goldhaber), an English literature professor, and Bernard Spitzer, a real estate mogul. His paternal grandparents were Galician Jews, born in Tluste, Poland, now Ukraine. His maternal grandparents, born in the 1890s, were Jewish emigrants from Ottoman-era Palestine (now Israel). Spitzer is the youngest of three children. He was raised in the affluent Riverdale section of the Bronx. His family was not religious, and Spitzer did not have a bar mitzvah.
He is a 1977 graduate of Horace Mann School. After scoring 1590 out of 1600 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), he attended Princeton University and graduated with an A.B. from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs in 1981 after completing a 151-page-long senior thesis titled "Revolutions in Post-Stalin Eastern Europe: A Study of Soviet Reactions". He then received his Juris Doctor at Harvard Law School. At Princeton, he was elected chairman of the undergraduate student government and graduated in 1981. He has said he received a perfect score on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), and went on to attend Harvard Law School, where he met and married Silda Wall. Spitzer was an editor of the Harvard Law Review.
Silda Wall and Eliot Spitzer married on October 17, 1987. Together, they have three daughters: Elyssa (b. 1990), Sarabeth (b. 1993), and Jenna (b. 1995). Silda Wall Spitzer stood beside her husband when he announced his resignation as New York governor following his prostitution scandal. On May 31, 2013, Spitzer and his wife were reported to be living apart. At the close of 2013, Spitzer and his wife announced the end of their marriage.
In February 1991 Robert Abrams, a Democrat and the longstanding New York State Attorney General, announced his intention to run for the U.S. Senate seat for New York then occupied by incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Al D'Amato. When he announced his intention the Senate election was almost two years in the future. Abrams won the nomination in the Democratic primary but narrowly lost to D'Amato in the general election in November 1992. Ten months later, in September 1993, Abrams announced that he would resign his position as Attorney General as of December 31, 1993, although he still had one year remaining in his term. To fill this vacancy the New York State Legislature elected Assemblyman G. Oliver Koppell to serve out the remainder of the Attorney General's term during 1993.
Spitzer joined the staff of Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, where he became chief of the labor-racketeering unit and spent six years (1986–1992) pursuing organized crime. Spitzer's biggest case came in 1992, when he led the investigation that ended the Gambino crime family's organized crime control of Manhattan's trucking and garment industries. Spitzer devised a plan to set up his own sweatshop in the city's garment district, where he turned out shirts, pants and sweaters, and hired 30 laborers. The shop manager eventually got close to the Gambinos, and officials were able to plant a bug in their office. The Gambinos, rather than being charged with extortion—which was hard to prove—were charged with antitrust violations. Joseph and Thomas Gambino, the latter being an extremely high-ranking member, and two other defendants took the deal and avoided jail by pleading guilty, paying $12 million in fines and agreeing to stay out of the business.
Spitzer left the District Attorney's office in 1992 to work at the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. From 1994 to 1998 he worked at the law firm Constantine and Partners on a number of consumer rights and antitrust cases.
Thirty-four-year-old Spitzer decided to run as a Democratic candidate in the 1994 election for Attorney General, as did Koppell, Brooklyn Family Court Judge Karen Burstein, and Kings County DA Charles J. Hynes. At the time, Spitzer was a young and relatively unknown defense attorney representing white-collar criminals. When he announced his campaign Spitzer suggested that, if elected, he would use the state's antitrust laws to pursue corporate polluters. Spitzer was the only candidate to support the death penalty. In a televised debate among the candidates, Spitzer was criticized for financing his campaign using $3 million of his own and family money. Despite heavy funding from his own family, he placed last among the four Democratic candidates for the nomination, receiving just 19% of the vote. Burstein, the only woman and gay candidate, won the primary with 31% of vote. Burstein subsequently lost in the general election to Republican Dennis Vacco, part of a nationwide Republican sweep, that included the election of Republican George Pataki as the new Governor of New York displacing the Democratic incumbent, Governor Mario Cuomo.
In late October 1998, Spitzer conceded that his father had lent him most of the campaign money he raised. According to The New York Times, after "repeatedly contending that he alone paid his campaign bills this year and in 1994, [Spitzer] acknowledged [that] his father, a wealthy real estate developer, [played] an extensive role in helping to finance his campaigns." He financed the campaigns from two sets of loans—both from J.P. Morgan & Company—that amounted to $4.3 million in 1994 and $4.8 million in 1998. Spitzer said, "I have worked long, long hours for my dad and for various businesses. Look, I'm not saying that I am underpaid. But any effort to challenge the propriety of that fee is way off base."
Four years later, Spitzer again wanted to run for Attorney General and on May 6, 1998, he announced he would run for the office for a second time. On May 28, he emerged as the front-runner among the Democratic candidates, ranking first at the Democratic convention with 36% of the vote. He also had the most amount of money, with over $2 million. In September, he won the Democratic primary election with 42% of the vote. He defeated State Senator Catherine Abate (27%), Koppell (22%), and former Governor's Counsel Evan Davis (9%). In the general election Spitzer would face the incumbent, Dennis Vacco, a Republican.
The New York State Senate Investigations committee considered investigating a controversial multi-million-dollar loan the governor's father Bernard Spitzer gave him when he ran for attorney general in 1998, a loan the younger Spitzer paid back. Senate Investigations Committee chairman George Winner told the New York Post that subpoenas should be used to find out about the loans. Winner wrote to Senate Elections Committee chairman Senator Joseph Griffo that an article profiling Spitzer in New York magazine "outlined what may have been a willful effort by Eliot Spitzer and his father to circumvent campaign-contribution limits in New York state law and then conceal their actions." In 1998, Spitzer claimed that he secured the $5 million loan by mortgaging apartments his father had given him, but later revealed that his father was paying off the loans and, therefore, financing his campaign.
As Attorney General, Spitzer stepped up the profile of the office. Traditionally, state attorneys general have pursued consumer rights cases, concentrating on local fraud while deferring national issues to the federal government. Breaking with this traditional deference, Spitzer took up civil actions and criminal prosecutions relating to corporate white-collar crime, securities fraud, Internet fraud, and environmental protection. The New York Attorney General's office has Wall Street (and thus many leading corporate and financial institutions) within its jurisdiction. Also, the New York Attorney General wields greater than usual powers of investigation and prosecution of corporations under New York State's General Business Law. In particular, under the Martin Act of 1921, the New York Attorney General has the power to subpoena witnesses and company documents pertaining to investigations of fraud or illegal activity by a corporation. Spitzer used this statute to allow his office to prosecute cases which have been described as within federal jurisdiction. Spitzer used this authority in his civil actions against corporations and criminal prosecutions against their officers. It proved useful in the wake of several U.S. corporate scandals that began with the collapse of Enron in 2001. Several of these corporations, as well as the brokerage houses that sold their stock, were accused of having inflated stock values by unethical means throughout the 1990s. When inquiries into these allegations by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Congress failed, Spitzer's office used its subpoena power to obtain corporate documents, building cases against the firms both in courtrooms and in public opinion.
In 2002 Spitzer ran for re-election and a second term as New York's Attorney General. Spitzer defeated Republican Judge Dora Irizarry 66%–30%.
In 2004, The Nation endorsed Spitzer as a possible Democratic candidate for vice president, stating that he was "the single most effective battler against corporate abuses in either political party". He was, however, not chosen.
On December 8, 2004, Spitzer announced his intention to seek the Democratic nomination for governor of New York. While long rumored, Spitzer's announcement was unusually early—nearly two years before the election. As a result of Spitzer's relative speed in bringing state Democrats to his side, he gained the respect of Democratic leaders nationwide. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson dubbed Spitzer the "future of the Democratic Party" at a fund raiser held in June 2005 for Spitzer's gubernatorial campaign.
In January 2006, Spitzer selected New York State Senate minority leader David Paterson as his choice for lieutenant governor and running mate. After announcing his candidacy, Spitzer was endorsed by numerous New Yorkers, including state Comptroller Alan Hevesi and two former New York City mayors, David Dinkins and Ed Koch. On May 30, 2006, Spitzer and Paterson won the endorsement of the New York State Democratic party. A June 2006 Quinnipiac University Polling Institute poll showed him leading Nassau county executive Thomas Suozzi 76–13 percent. On July 25, 2006, he faced Suozzi in a gubernatorial debate held at Pace University in Manhattan, discussing issues such as public authorities and Medicaid. When asked about marijuana, Spitzer stated that he disagrees with medicinal use of the drug, claiming that other medicines were more effective. In the Democratic primary held on September 12, 2006, Spitzer handily defeated Suozzi, securing his party's nomination with 81 percent of the vote.
Spitzer was elected governor on November 7, 2006, when he defeated Republican John Faso and Libertarian John Clifton, among others, with 69 percent of the vote. He won with the largest margin of victory ever in a New York gubernatorial race.
During the traditional midnight ceremony on January 1, 2007, Spitzer was sworn in as Governor of New York. A public ceremony was held at 1 p.m. on the same day that featured brass and percussion players from the Empire State Youth Orchestra. Bucking tradition, the ceremony was held outdoors—the first outdoor inauguration ceremony in New York for over a century. After taking the oath of office, he attended a concert at the Times Union Center in his honor, headlined by James Taylor and Natalie Merchant.
Spitzer's reform-based platform, and his pledge "to change the ethics of Albany", hit an early roadblock when his ideas on how to fill vacancies in the executive department were defeated by the state legislature. According to the New York State Constitution, it is the duty of the state legislature to fill executive vacancies. The governor was criticized as unreasonable for admonishing the legislature when it took constitutional actions. The appointment of state assemblyman Thomas DiNapoli to succeed the disgraced Alan Hevesi as New York State Comptroller was a serious blow to the new governor. Spitzer had backed an outside panel to draft a list of qualified candidates; the legislature resisted Spitzer's desires when these included no legislators. Some Assembly Democrats were alienated over the incident, and questioned Spitzer's refusal of extending patronage to party members seeking local political appointments. Spitzer's choice was New York City Finance Commissioner Martha Stark, who was selected by a panel that consisted of former State Comptroller Edward Regan, former State Comptroller Carl McCall and former New York City Comptroller Harrison J. Goldin. On February 7, 2007, when the Legislature voted, Stark was one of two names put into nomination, along with Assemblyman Thomas DiNapoli of Long Island, Assembly Leader Sheldon Silver's choice. The final vote was 150 for DiNapoli and 56 for Stark. Stark's main support came from Democrats in the Senate, along with Republicans in both chambers.
One of Spitzer's key campaign pledges was to reform the state budget process. While the state did pass a budget on schedule in 2007, the ultimate results fell short of what many reformers hoped Spitzer would achieve. The New York Post opined, "Spitzer promised reform, and delivered something completely different" and termed the budget itself "bitterly disappointing."
Spitzer's budget quickly turned into a deficit, as by the end of October it was projected the state would run a deficit exceeding $4 billion for the year. During Spitzer's first year the state payroll increased, aggravating the budget problem. Despite increasing the public sector payroll, in late 2007 New York State started leading the nation in lost jobs. The 2008–09 budget includes measures to counter financial effects of the crisis in the financial sector starting in the second half of 2007.
In April 2007, Spitzer proposed a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in New York. State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno announced his opposition to the proposal. This legislation passed in the State Assembly on June 19, 2007, but was denied in the State Senate and was returned to the Assembly.
On July 23, 2007, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's office admonished the Spitzer administration for ordering the State Police to keep special records of Senate majority leader Joseph Bruno's whereabouts when he traveled with police escorts in New York City.
On September 21, 2007, Spitzer issued an executive order directing that state offices allow illegal immigrants to be issued driver's licenses effective December 2007. Applicants for driver's licenses would not be required to prove legal immigration status and would be allowed to present a foreign passport as identification. In October 2007, after meeting with the Department of Homeland Security, Spitzer altered the plan so that licenses issued to migrant workers would look different from other licenses and that the new licenses would not allow access to airplanes and federal buildings.
On October 22, 2007, the State Senate passed legislation that would have overturned Spitzer's plan to allow driver licenses to be obtained by undocumented immigrants. The bill passed by a margin of 39 to 19, receiving bipartisan support. Eight Democrats from moderate districts broke with Spitzer on the vote. After the vote, The New York Times called this issue "Mr. Spitzer's single most unpopular decision since he took office".
As of November 13, 2007, Spitzer's approval rating as governor was 33 percent, a further decline from his 44% approval rating of October 24, 2007. A later poll showed that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg would defeat Spitzer were he to seek reelection. Two polls in December 2007 showed further erosion in Spitzer's public standing.
In February 2008, The Washington Post published an op-ed written by Spitzer in which he criticized the Bush Administration for inhibiting States from pursuing predatory lenders.
On March 10, 2008, The New York Times reported that Spitzer had patronized a high-priced escort service called Emperors Club VIP and met for two hours with a $1,000-an-hour call girl. This information originally came to the attention of authorities from a federal wiretap. During a six month span, Spitzer had at least seven or eight liaisons with women from the agency and paid more than $15,000. According to published reports, investigators alleged that Spitzer paid up to $80,000 for prostitutes over a period of several years while he was attorney general, and later as governor. Spitzer first drew the attention of federal investigators when his bank reported suspicious money transfers under the anti-money laundering provisions of the Bank Secrecy Act and the Patriot Act. The resulting investigation was triggered by the belief that Spitzer might have been hiding bribe proceeds and led to the discovery of the prostitution ring.
In the wake of the revelations and amid threats of impeachment, Spitzer announced on March 12, 2008, that he would resign his post as governor at noon on March 17, 2008. Spitzer said at a news conference in Manhattan:
On July 16, 2008, The New York Times published an article that explained how Spitzer used campaign funds to pay for two Mayflower Hotel bookings, $411.06 apiece, where he was alleged to have met with prostitutes. While it remains unclear if Spitzer stayed in the hotel on the nights he booked, The Times has stated that Spitzer met with prostitutes in early 2008. Spitzer declined to comment on the issue.
In November 2008, prosecutors who were in charge of the case announced that Spitzer would not face criminal charges for his involvement in the sex ring. They cited that no evidence of misuse of public funds was found and therefore it would not serve the public interest to press charges against Spitzer. Spitzer offered an apology, saying, "I appreciate the impartiality and thoroughness of the investigation by the U.S. Attorney's Office, and I acknowledge and accept responsibility for the conduct it disclosed."
Spitzer continued to make public appearances and engage in media commitments following his resignation. The Washington Post published a Spitzer opinion piece in November 2008 conveying his analysis of the financial crisis of 2008 and suggested remedies. Spitzer concluded the piece by saying that he hoped the Obama Administration would make the right policy choices, "although mistakes I made in my private life now prevent me from participating in these issues as I have in the past."
Spitzer became a regular columnist for Slate magazine and in December 2008 Slate published the first of a new series of columns by Spitzer dedicated to the economy. On August 22, 2011, The New York Times reported that Spitzer has been sued for a combined $90 million over an August 22, 2010 Slate column about Wall Street firm Marsh & McLennan by two former executives of the company, claiming that they were libeled by the column. The lawsuit by one of the executives was dismissed the following year.
In September 2009, Spitzer joined the faculty of the City College of New York as an adjunct instructor of political science and taught an undergraduate course called "Law and Public Policy".
Spitzer took on various public speaking arrangements, beginning with a discussion with the New York chapter of the Entrepreneurs' Organization on June 17, 2009.
He also made a number of television appearances in 2009 and 2010, including Real Time with Bill Maher and Campbell Brown (CNN program), as well as appearing as a substitute anchor on MSNBC. On June 24, 2010, CNN announced that Spitzer would be joining the network to host a "round-table" discussion program alongside center-right commentator Kathleen Parker. Parker Spitzer, compared by some media outlets to the defunct Crossfire, replaced Campbell Brown in the 8:00 p.m. ET timeslot on weeknights starting in October. In February 2011, CNN announced that Parker was leaving the show, which was renamed In the Arena on February 28, 2011. On July 6, 2011, CNN announced it was canceling In the Arena and shifting Anderson Cooper 360° to the 8 p.m. time slot.
In 2011, The Guardian summarized Spitzer's history as follows:
On March 30, 2012, Spitzer joined Al Gore's cable television network, Current TV, in the wake of the sudden firing of Keith Olbermann from the network, and immediately began hosting his own program Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer. On January 6, 2013, Spitzer announced that he had left both Viewpoint and Current TV, and that he would not be joining Current TV in its latest venture with Al Jazeera. "Moving forward, their mission will be different," he said. He also stated: "For me, journalism has been more a matter of projecting a particular approach to covering policies, to covering issues. It was a continuation of what I tried to do in government. And that doesn't fit with their vision of what they are going to do."
In 2012, Spitzer became an investor in TipRanks, an Israeli financial technology start-up company that ranks Wall Street analysts. He became a member of the company's board of directors.
On July 7, 2013, Spitzer announced he was running for New York City Comptroller, and would start a petition the following day. 3,750 valid signatures from registered voters from his party were required by July 11 to register for the race but Spitzer was able to submit over 27,000 signatures to the city Board of Elections before the deadline. Spitzer commented that he was asking for forgiveness, and hopeful that voters could forgive him. Spitzer lost the primary on September 10, 2013, to Scott Stringer.
Following his father's illness and death in 2014 and with politics behind him, Spitzer came to lead his family's real estate business, Spitzer Enterprises, despite having avoided the role for much of his life. Spitzer sold his company's apartments in The Corinthian and the Crown Building for a large profit, which he used to fund a $700 million project of three waterfront buildings in South Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
In February 2016, Spitzer was investigated by the New York City Police Department after being accused of assault by Svetlana Travis-Zakharova, a woman from Russia, in an incident that supposedly occurred at the Plaza Hotel on February 13, 2016. The New York Daily News reported Spitzer had been accused of attacking the woman, who tried to kill herself by slitting her wrists after the incident. Ms. Travis subsequently recanted her accusations and no charges were filed.
Currently, Eliot Spitzer is 62 years, 1 months and 17 days old. Eliot Spitzer will celebrate 63rd birthday on a Friday 10th of June 2022. Below we countdown to Eliot Spitzer upcoming birthday.