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March 10, 2008

Should and will NY Governor Elliot Spitzer be prosecuted by the feds?

Breaking crime news from the New York Times: New York Governor  "Eliot Spitzer has been caught on a federal wiretap arranging to meet with a high-priced prostitute at a Washington hotel last month, according to a person briefed on the federal investigation."  Here is more:

The wiretap recording, made during an investigation of a prostitution ring called Emperors Club VIP, captured a man identified as Client 9 on a telephone call confirming plans to have a woman travel from New York to Washington, where he had reserved a room. The person briefed on the case identified Mr. Spitzer as Client 9....

The man described as Client 9 in court papers arranged to meet with a prostitute who was part of the ring, Emperors Club VIP, on the night of Feb. 13.  Mr. Spitzer traveled to Washington that evening, according to a person told of his travel arrangements. The affidavit says that Client 9 met with the woman in hotel room 871 but does not identify the hotel. Mr. Spitzer stayed at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington on Feb. 13, according to a source who was told of his travel arrangements....

Federal prosecutors rarely charge clients in prostitution cases, which are generally seen as state crimes. But the Mann Act, passed by Congress in 1910 to address prostitution, human trafficking and what was viewed at the time as immorality in general, makes it a crime to transport someone between states for the purpose of prostitution. The four defendants charged in the case unsealed last week were all charged with that crime, along with several others.

Anyone know what the standard guideline range might be for violations of the Mann Act? 

UPDATE: TalkLeft has this post with more details on the federal criminal case in which all this news broke and Jeralyn notes that it is clear from this 55-page indictment "that Customer #9 was a repeat customer and that he intended to use them again in the future."

March 10, 2008 at 03:36 PM | Permalink


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15-21 months without acceptance

Posted by: | Mar 10, 2008 4:26:46 PM

The chief judge of the U.S. District Court in Colorado is currently being investigated for using the services of a prostitution ring in Denver. Too bad there was no crossing of state lines. Otherwise, maybe he and Spitzer could be cellies.

Posted by: anon | Mar 10, 2008 4:28:24 PM

"Federal prosecutors rarely charge clients in prostitution cases, which are generally seen as state crimes."

Breaking news from the eighteenth century: the District of Columbia is not a state.

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Mar 10, 2008 4:29:47 PM

Sex violations by men must stop. Elliot Spitzer should be charged with a sex crime and be required to register as a sex offender.

Posted by: david holder | Mar 10, 2008 4:34:26 PM

Ask Jack Johnson, he served a year and a day.

Posted by: Brian | Mar 10, 2008 4:37:45 PM

You have to feel sorry for his kids. And why do politicians caught in such a mess always seem to have their spouses show up at the presser.

Somehow I doubt Spitzer gets prosecuted. He probably shouldn't.

Posted by: federalist | Mar 10, 2008 4:54:30 PM

It's the week of prostitution stings:

Former Judge Tills resigns amid FBI prostitution investigation.


Posted by: Steve | Mar 10, 2008 4:56:30 PM

"Sex violations by men must stop. Elliot Spitzer should be charged with a sex crime and be required to register as a sex offender."

Uh, no offense, David, but the idea of having johns register as sex offenders is nuts. And do you really think prosecuting Spitzer, or anybody else, will "stop" prostitution? There's a reason it's called "the oldest profession."

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Mar 10, 2008 5:35:07 PM

Should he be prosecuted? In me view, since he is resigning, he should be treated like any other client, which means he should not be prosecuted, unless the facts are worse than what has been publically disclosed.

As to whether he will be prosecuted, that's an entirely different question. Some news stories are speculating that he could be prosecuted for structuring. If so, the guidelines could get nasty, given that this was a high-priced prostitution ring. One imagines that Spitzer is negotiating to keep that from happening.

Another thought: could those stories be a way of pressuring Spitzer?

Posted by: William Jockusch | Mar 10, 2008 8:32:00 PM

Yes. Joe Bruno should be prosecuted too for misuing his office for private gain (unless you believe that crimes by republicans meant to help republicans aren't really crimes).

Posted by: Da Man | Mar 10, 2008 8:37:01 PM

I think is really troubling how the Government keeps trying to enforce its moral codes on the rest of the population.

Not to mention that Spitzer being a Democrat will probably get a harsher treatment. When that Republican congressman from Louisiana was caught hiring a prostitute, there were no calls to prosecute. I know this involves crossing state lines, but they are still consenting adults, and its obvious he was targeted.

Posted by: EJ | Mar 10, 2008 8:42:33 PM

Way to stay on topic, "Da Man."

Of course, he should be prosecuted. Not only was Spitzer the Governor of NY, he's also the former Attorney General!

Posted by: Ben D | Mar 10, 2008 8:43:46 PM

Thanks, Ben. Speaking of staying "on topic," what does the "D" stand for?

Posted by: Da Man | Mar 10, 2008 10:27:30 PM

The Mann Act? Really? When was the last time someone was convicted for patronizing a prostitute using the Mann Act?

Posted by: dm | Mar 10, 2008 11:05:57 PM

William - How is Spitzer's resignation relevant to his prosecution? You seem to hold his resignation as a condition precedent to his being treated like any other "client." What would be your analysis if he didn't resign? Should the federal prosecutors interject themselves into what should be a state impeachment procedure?

While I couldn't possibly be as happy as the Wall Street traders who openly celebrated on the floor and in the streets, count me among the crowd who rejoices in Spitzer's demise. But I agree with William that unless he was more involved in the ring than just a John, he probably shouldn't be prosecuted. The fact that I will never have to worry about hearing the words "Elliot Spitzer" and "President" in the same sentence is good enough for me.

Posted by: Vince 2L | Mar 10, 2008 11:14:34 PM

His resignation should not be relevant to his prosecution. He should be prosecuted if it is determined that he violated the law, however there is speculation the he is not resigning as his legal counsel is using the resignation as a pawn in a plea agreement. Thus is the state of our legal system. Mr. Spitzer should be very familiar with this from his past life as a prosecutor, and he is a master of this modus operandi.

Spitzer knows the power prerogatives of prosecutors - they can extort, intimidate, ignore or prosecute. What will it be?

Posted by: beth curtis | Mar 11, 2008 1:06:45 AM

beth, if I am the prosecutor, I am in no hurry--let the Dems twist in the wind--and I bleed Spitzer with legal costs--sauce for the goose.

Posted by: federalist | Mar 11, 2008 2:44:57 AM

"if I am the prosecutor, I am in no hurry--let the Dems twist in the wind--and I bleed Spitzer with legal costs"

I'm certain that's true, federalist, even though earlier in the string you admitted "He probably shouldn't" be prosecuted on the merits. Perhaps that says more about you, though, than what may or may not happen in this case.

The allegation that a prosecution is "politicized" used to be embarrassing among honorable legal minds. Today, sadly, it's almost the norm.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Mar 11, 2008 7:13:43 AM

As Governor, Spitzer has sworn to uphold the law. Obviously he didn't keep his oath. A common citizen has not sworn such an oath. So it is appropriate for a prosecutor to take this into consideration. And if he wanted to continue being Governor, it would be appropriate for a prosecutor to be tougher on him than on a common citizen.

Posted by: William Jockusch | Mar 11, 2008 7:39:19 AM

Bill, I'm sure you didn't intend to imply such, but I don't think taking the Governor's public office "into consideration" is the same as a prosecutor who wants to "let the Dems twist in the wind--and ... bleed Spitzer with legal cost".

I agree his stepping down from office can and should be taken into consideration in a prosecution decision for the reasons you stated - that's not what I was referring to as "politicized."

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Mar 11, 2008 8:46:16 AM

"beth, if I am the prosecutor, I am in no hurry--let the Dems twist in the wind--and I bleed Spitzer with legal costs--sauce for the goose."

Nothing like a prosecutor that renders charging decisions in pursuit of a political strategy. But, of course, to Federalist, everything is "political."

Maybe we can also discuss how best to legalize prostitution. I propose a hookers licensing bureau. Like they have in Hungary.

Posted by: S.cotus | Mar 11, 2008 8:48:34 AM

Grits --

I'm not Federalist. And I don't support for one second the idea of being tougher on one party than on the other.

Posted by: William Jockusch | Mar 11, 2008 10:08:31 AM

According to today's NYT, it looks like it gets worse for Spitzer: he could be guilty of structuring financial transactions to avoid reporting requirements, in violation of 18 USC §§ 5313(a) and 5324(a).

Posted by: JonC | Mar 11, 2008 10:28:14 AM

My mistake: it's 31 USC § 5324 that appears to be the statute on point here.

Posted by: JonC | Mar 11, 2008 10:48:43 AM

Maybe I am missing something, but I don't see how 31 USC 5331 or 5324 would be implicated, b/c this hooker was not that expensive.

Posted by: S.cotus | Mar 11, 2008 11:19:34 AM

First of all, Spitzer is in no position to whine about politics and prosecutions, given his, ahem, agressive reading of the law. And I don't see how a prosecutor, recognizing the political untenability of Spitzer remaining in office is wrong.

Second of all, I hadn't seen the "structuring" issue--I just thought it was prostitution.

Third of all, Spitzer is the one delaying his resignation, so any twisting in the wind is the Dems' problem and not the fault of any prosecutor.

Fourth of all, the bleed him comment just reflects reality--Spitzer delays resignation because he wants to keep that as a bargaining chip, well fine, if I am a prosecutor, it's not my job to bring things to a quick resolution if some politician caught pretty much redhanded won't resign, and when things don't get brought to a quick resolution, there are more legal costs involved. It's not like Spitzer never used economic leverage to get defendants to roll.

Posted by: federalist | Mar 11, 2008 11:22:51 AM

Spitzer is under no obligation to resign. If he wants to, he can. But, this is politics and politics isn’t my bag. You seem to see decisions to prosecute people as political decisions. Granted, many prosecutors see things this way, but most of them have the decency to lie about it. Unfortunately, because there is so much lying about it, it obscures the fact that most decisions to prosecute are NOT intended to further partisan political goals.

Actually, as a prosecutor you do have any ethical duty to brings things to a quick resolution. If you were a lawyer (and you have admitted that you are not) you would not be arguing that you have no duty not to delay for political reasons.

New York’s Disciplinary Rules bind federal prosecutors. DR 7-102(a)(1) prevents lawyers from “Fil[ing] a suit, assert a position, conduct a defense, delay a trial, or take other action on behalf of the client when the lawyer knows or when it is obvious that such action would serve merely to harass or maliciously injure another.”

Perhaps now we can have a discussion about how best to legalize prostitution. It is an idea whose time has come.

Posted by: S.cotus | Mar 11, 2008 11:39:50 AM

Somehow, I doubt, S.cotus, that the rules of professional conduct require prosecutors, who haven't even filed a case yet, to move swiftly to protect a bargaining chip of the defendant, i.e., his resignation. That doing such a thing has adverse collateral consequences to the defendant and his political party is really not the prosecutors' problem.

And before all you guys get so worked up at me, let's take a trip down memory lane--what about Earle using the DeLay prosecution to raise funds for the Democratic party. That didn't seem to bother anyone.

Posted by: federalist | Mar 11, 2008 11:49:52 AM

Because you are not a lawyer and your culture and biology is so different from ours, your analysis is, quite frankly, alien to me. “Somehow, I doubt, ...that the rules of professional conduct require prosecutors, who haven't even filed a case yet, to move swiftly to protect a bargaining chip of the defendant, i.e., his resignation.” This really makes no sense. First, you provide no citation to authority. Second, you assume that prosecutors can use political resignations as a “bargaining” chip. Third, resignation from political office is not a “collateral consequence.” As lawyers would refer to it. I don’t know what lay people mean when they say these words, because I have so little contact with them.

Fourth, it seems somewhat odd that you see the duty of a prosecutor is to simply “ruin” someone’s life by extracting as much pain as possible. Granted, prosecutors can and do think about how best to obtain a plea, but you seem to be thinking that a federal prosecutor should do his best to unseat a state governor. Strange. Maybe if I had taken "client counseling" in law school, I would better understand you folks.

I don’t know much about Texas, and I really don’t care much about Texas. As we both agree, it is a lawless state that is filled with criminals. It is simply a dirty place with nothing in common with the rest of the country. This is why so many Texans are crying out to be executed and the courts and prosecutors have agreed. Further, I recall that many people did object to Delay’s prosecution, but I was not paying too much attention because Texans have a different and lawless culture than the rest of the country. We would be better off building a wall around Texas to keep them to themselves.

Posted by: S.cotus | Mar 11, 2008 11:59:32 AM

I have no idea whether he should be prosecuted since we don't yet know all the details of his alleged crimes.

But he hardly is going to get any sympathy because he held himself out as the champion of ethics. Just as conservative Republicans or evangelical Christians are despised when they transgress the lines of morality and are decried as hypocrites; Spitzer will be raked over the coals for his ethical transgressions here.

One wonders, though, will the feminists decry Spitzer's behavior? One sure hopes so, but consistency has never been a strong point of the feminist movement.

Posted by: | Mar 11, 2008 12:20:20 PM

What does feminism have to do with this? Feminists, as I understand it, are split on prostitution. In fact, there are many pro-pr0n and pro-prostitution feminists. If what people are saying is correct, that the amounts of money involved were so high (roughly akin to what a Skadden partner would get for a night of non-illegal work for hire), I don’t really see who is the victim here. (Maybe Spitzer was overcharged.)

So, perhaps instead of calling feminists “inconsistent” you should identify specific sub-areas of feminist thought and explain where prostitution fits in (or doesn’t fit in) to such areas.

Posted by: S.cotus | Mar 11, 2008 12:24:22 PM

S.cotus, let's not forget that you botched the concept of selective incorporation in a comment here. Let's get that basic concept right before we start talking about who is and who is not a lawyer. All I was doing was pointing out, in response to beth's suppostion, was that prosecutors don't need to hurry, and of course, that it hurts Dems for Spitzer to hang around, which I have no problems with. Yeah, I waved the bloody shirt--so what?

Your point about collateral consequences is true, I guess, but I think everyone knows what I meant. What other easily understood term is there . . . . non-legal collateral consequences?

Third, I don't see where I am advocating ruining anyone. Spitzer, it seems relatively clear, broke the law, and more than just prostitution. Personally, his political scalp is more important to me than locking him up.

Posted by: federalist | Mar 11, 2008 12:33:57 PM

OMG, I actually agree with S.cotus. There are a lot of silly feminists who buy into the notion that prostitution is female empowerment. Perhaps so in rare cases, but anyone with any knowledge about how most prostitutes live their lives have to know that prostitution, generally, is a dirty, ugly business.

Posted by: federalist | Mar 11, 2008 12:37:01 PM

I don’t know what you are talking about regarding “selective incorporation.” I don’t see how it is relevant here. Moreover, seeing that you steadfastly refuse to provide citations (not your fault, you were not raised to be a lawyer and we practically grew up in different countries), it is doubtful that you were ever able to prove anyone wrong in the legal sense of the word.

Again, because we some from different cultures I don’t really understand your obsession with hurting democrats and waiving things around.

It isn’t really “clear” that Spitzer broke the law. He hasn’t been convicted of anything. Even if he did break “the law” mere solicitation is not that serious a crime in most places. Whatever the case, if he chooses to resign (as it seems likely in the past few hours) it is his problem.

Posted by: S.cotus | Mar 11, 2008 12:38:10 PM

"Anyway, let me be clear on my point. It isn’t that complicated. 14th amendment equal protection post-dates the signing of the constitution and the ratification of the bill of rights by over a century. While the constitution was envisioned as a compact between the states and allocation of some federal and state power, and the bill of right was envisioned as a means to protect people from federal power, the post-civil war amendments were viewed as a way to reign in the evil in the south. It was not until later that the “rights” recognized in the “bill of rights” began being “incorporated” to the states (i.e. applied to the states as well as the federal government). The extent to which they applied is not 100% clear, though most people will always say, “sure, they all do.” Off the top of my head, the following are questionable areas of selective incorporation: 1) establishment clause (maybe this is just Justice Thomas); 2) the 2d amendment; 3) 8th amendment prohibition against unreasonable bail); and 4) the interrelationship between the ADA and the 11th and 14th amendments (i.e. Congress’s ability to abrogate state sovereign immunity in the name of the 14th)."

That's a quote from a post of yours, S.cotus. It's rife with error.

In any event, you mischaracterize what I wrote. Spitzer, by refusing to resign so far, hurts Dems, not prosecutors--there's no harm in taking a little glee at that one. And whether one broke the law is not dependent on a the existence of a conviction.

Posted by: federalist | Mar 11, 2008 1:13:37 PM

Now I am lost. What does the 14th amendment have to do with any of this?

I really don't understand what you are talking about regarding "dems" and your "glee."

Perhaps someone can give federalist a hand here.

Posted by: S.cotus | Mar 11, 2008 1:28:21 PM

S.cotus--you're running around yammering about who is and who is not a lawyer. When you write the crap that I quoted, you shouldn't be calling into question other people's professional status. That's why it's relevant SFB.

Posted by: federalist | Mar 11, 2008 1:44:56 PM

But didn't you say that you were not a lawyer?

If you are trying to "prove" me wrong about some legal matter (the relevance I still don't get), you would need to provide citations, anyway.

Posted by: S.cotus | Mar 11, 2008 2:07:42 PM

"Maybe I am missing something, but I don't see how 31 USC 5331 or 5324 would be implicated, b/c this hooker was not that expensive."

We know that he paid her $4,300 on one occasion alone. 5324 applies if someone structured a transaction to avoid the $10K reporting requirement. According to the NYT article, Spitzer's moving around large amounts of money was what caught the eye of the bank (and then the feds) in the first place. I don't really see why a structuring prosecution would be all that far-fetched on these facts. In fact, were that charge to be brought, it seems pretty much like it'd be a slam dunk.

Posted by: JonC | Mar 11, 2008 2:46:51 PM

I don't think you can get a "structuring" conviction on the basis of two separate transfers for different acts. If I recall correctly, a mere transfer of funds between people does not trigger a reporting requirement. If anyone would be guilty of a "structuring" offense, it would be a recipient of the funds who broke it up into smaller deposits.

Neither statute imposes a reporting requirement for the payor of funds. E.g. 3551 reads "who, in the course of such trade or business, receives more than $10,000 in coins or currency in 1 transaction (or 2 or more related transactions)." 5324(b) requires that the government show a specific intent to cause the recipient of the funds (in this case a business) to not file a report.

Posted by: S.cotus | Mar 11, 2008 3:22:01 PM

New York magazine came yesterday and is lying on my desk. Granted it is not the New Yorker, but this week it peaks my interest with an article titled The UN-REFORMED. The tease is "For twelve years, nobody could threaten Joe Bruno's pugnacious hold on power. But now Eliot Spitzer finally has him on the ropes" It is the language of the law that you win a case or lose a case, what does this mean except personal investment.

Prosecutors make decisions about who and what to prosecute daily. The possibilities are endless. It is not that difficult to violate the law and with each act of Congress we have a few more legal hurdles to deal with.

I'm sure most decisions to prosecute are not considered by the prosecutor to be in furtherance of political or personal goals - but because of the voluminous opportunity to prosecute - every prosecution is a choice but not an objective decision.

S.cotus, you are a legal idealist. It's hard for many of us to see those ideals in the parsing language of our voluminous law. People (and lawyers) make decisions based on their frame of reference. It is unfortunate that now there are so many choices concerning what is "against the law"

Prosecutors feel very comfortable choosing what and how to prosecute and defense attorneys are generally pained and energized thinking about the possibilities for winning for their client. These are generally not the same personalities - but winning and losing is a common element as well as financial payment whether pay check or fee.

As for legalizing prostitution - If we really wanted an objective legal system, there are thousands of behavloral issues that should that decriminalized. When there are many opportunities to prosecute choices will be made.

Posted by: beth curtis | Mar 11, 2008 3:56:15 PM

S.cotus, I guess I don't understand why you think Spitzer's conduct does not fall under 5324(a) or (b). It seems pretty clear, based on what has been reported, that he was shifting money around in order to avoid having the bank or the shell company file the required report with the IRS. 5324 says that "no person" shall cause a bank or other institution to fail to file the required report. I don't understand why you think this would apply to the recipient of the funds but not Spitzer.

Posted by: JonC | Mar 11, 2008 4:09:13 PM

Ms. Curtis, For the most part, prosecutors and defense attorneys have more in common than “liberal” non-lawyers and defense attorneys or “conservative” non-lawyers and prosecutors. Each criminal statute out there, believe it or not, has a history, which includes its enactment, general practice, and appellate decisions regarding its proper construction. This all seems a mess to non-lawyers, to whom it might seem completely random, but to people that practice in a given area, it is all in a day’s work. When people start injecting partisan politics into the mix, it becomes somewhat silly, because decisions of various actors start to appear nonsensical. Usually after a few stupid decisions, cooler heads prevail.

My views about legalization of prostitution are purely policy views. It is good policy to have a vibrant, minimally regulated prostitution industry. I believe that prostitutes should be protected from dangerous conditions (much in the same way that manual laborers are), and should be taxed.

Jon, Merely “shifting” money doesn’t trigger either of the statutes. In fact, “shifting” money is something that people do all the time. Perfectly legal. Instead, for someone to be guilty under either provision there must be some indicator that the “shifting” was specifically intended to cause the recipient to not report a transaction of over $10,000. Consider someone that signs a year-long lease agreement payable as $900/month rent and he pays in cash each month. That will result in $10,800, flowing to the landlord. There is nothing illegal about paying in cash. The government would have to produce some evidence that this was structured to avoid the reporting requirement. Maybe you can show me how I am wrong.

Posted by: S.cotus | Mar 11, 2008 4:27:04 PM

I never really followed the Eliot Spitzer triumphs against all of those bad people. The problem with a hypocrite like this guy is this: no one is happy unless he pays twice what he exacted from others. He must be charged under the Mann Act. "MAN ACT!" -- is not that name a bit funny here? He may not be let off with simply resigning. Did the Govt give Chuck Berry that option back in the 50s when he was charged with the Mann Act? Say Chuck, just dont do music anymore.

Those who are unforgiving, must not be forgiven.

Oh yeah, where did the money come from? I will wager that it was not from anything personal. Thief things here. So, Doug, conjure up the sentences in Federal Court for Mann Act violation with the amount of money involved and you must include the entire amount of the conspiracy money (like Eliot would have if it was a Wall Street deal), so the def is looking at all the time that all of the other co-conspirators have racked up with all of their money. Get out the calculators.

I do not feel that he should be given more time for having big ears. No plus or minus on that one.

Posted by: mpb | Mar 11, 2008 4:49:53 PM

Federal defense attorney here. How about Aggravated Identity Theft, 18 USC 1028A, 2 year mandatory minimum sentrence, for using the name of his friend and donor George Fox to commit violations of the Mann Act?

Posted by: Jeff | Mar 11, 2008 4:55:10 PM

Jeff, I don't know the facts, but I think that 1028A requires that the government show he used his ID, not just his name.

Posted by: S.cotus | Mar 11, 2008 5:32:56 PM

S.Cotus: I understand that it's not just the shifting but the intent to avoid the filing of a CTR that makes the conduct illegal structuring. It seems to me, based on what has been reported in the media, that there is fairly strong circumstantial evidence that Spitzer was trying to conceal the payments to the prostitution ring by funneling them in smaller amounts to the QAT shell corporation. At the least, that would appear to be enough to hold him criminally liable, if not for the substantive structuring offense, at least for conspiracy.

Perhaps even more directly applicable to Spitzer's conduct is 18 USC § 1956(a)(1)(A)(i) and (B)(i), the federal money laundering statute. Spitzer almost certainly "conduct[ed] . . . a financial transaction which in fact involve[d] the proceeds of specified unlawful activity [i.e. prostitution]" with the intent to further promote prostitution (because he set up the credit arrangement in order to "use" the same girl in the future), and with knowledge that the transaction was intended to conceal the nature and source of the proceeds (because he supposedly paid in cash to avoid leaving a paper trail). Again, even if he's not liable for the substantive offense, it seems there's a strong conspiracy case to be made here.

The bottom line is that Spitzer may have a lot more to worry about than just the prostitution charges.

Posted by: JonC | Mar 11, 2008 5:43:51 PM

Jon, I am not sure who he would be conspiring with. But merely trying to “conceal” the payment in general isn’t enough. He needs to be shown to want to avoid the filing of the CTR, which I think is different.

I don’t know of any laundering cases where setting up a tab (or an account) for a hooker was charged.

I will agree that with some creative lawyering, his name can be dragged around. But, really, at bottom, at best (i.e. assuming that it is all true), he was just trying to hire a callgirl, like the rest of the agency’s clients.

Posted by: S.cotus | Mar 11, 2008 5:54:48 PM

The co-conspirator(s) would have to be his contacts at the Empire Club or the Club as a whole. Doesn't seem like much of a stretch to me: both Spitzer and the Club had a vested interest in making sure the transactions were kept "on the D.L.," as the kids say. I suppose we'll just have to see what happens if and when the indictment drops. Bear in mind that so far we only know of the one encounter with "Kristen," and that there very well may be more details yet to come to light.

Posted by: JonC | Mar 11, 2008 6:36:10 PM

If Governor Spitzer is not prosecuted for violating the Mann Act and these women are, well, I have nothing but contempt for such charging decisions. The case law on the Mann Act seems unclear, though; can the prostitutes themselves be charged for the acts, and under what circumstances? The complaint does not appear to name the prostitutes themselves and the brief review of case law on Lexis was not very helpful.

I did research on the Mann Act last summer. The case involved a defendant who was alleged to have transported a minor (16 or 17) and an adult (late 20s early 30s) across state lines for the purpose of prostitution. In that case, from the Midwest to the West coast. Once the transportation of a minor charged was dropped he took a plea for I think roughly four years (there were many problems for both sides with this case, and he was subject to registration upon release).

It was a little weird and disconcerting to discover that prostitution cases were being litigated in federal court. There is a major issue in many cases over the interstate intent, although that does not appear to be a barrier to prosecution here, since the defendants (named and unnamed) appear to have arranged transportation from NY to DC.

As an aside, re: legalization, I believe Thailand still criminalizes it as a formal matter, although in practice it thrives. When I was studying there for a semester the Asian men at the university I was staying at would talk about visiting prostitutes, even men from more conservative environments like Bangladesh and Pakistan. I was interning at UNAIDS at the time, and it was very surprising how many men would admit (at least among other men) that they had experiences with prostitutes. Less tolerance among women, but far more than Westernern prostitutes would typically enjoy.

I agree that feminists are divided on this subject. I have to say that I haven't found the more libertarian legal environments particularly advanced when it comes to women's rights and concerns (particularly Asia and our own den of iniquity, Nevada), but my libertarian instincts still favor decriminalization. It is almost laughable that our culture thrives on a billion dollar pornography industry while condemning this market.

Posted by: Alec | Mar 11, 2008 6:38:23 PM

"Triggering the Grand Irrationality?"

Cowering in an obscure corner of the food pyramid

somewhere between the tofu and the unflavored yogurt

contemplating the juxtaposition of intangibles for all you are worth.....

Posted by: poetryman69 | Mar 11, 2008 8:56:26 PM

The law is the law. But the Mann Act is the least of the issues. First of all, real men have been imprisoned under the law such as Chuck Berry and Jack Johnson. Neither was super rich or white, but it shouldn't make a difference. And remember it was Eliot Spitzer who set the precedent of resurrecting very old and little used laws and then to prosecute under them. Still, everyone seems to be missing the big issue: Spitzer was involved with, protecting, and beholden to Organized Crime. Remember, Spitzer didn't do business with a girl on the street corner, or develop a paid girlfriend he met at a hotel bar. Eliot Spitzer was sending wire transfers to shell companies associated with a prostitution ring, a form of Organized Crime. Thus, Spitzer was protecting organized crime at the same time the crime family had dirt on Spitzer. For how many other crimes associated with these crime families did Eliot Spitzer suppress investigation and prosecution? There is already evidence of Eliot Spitzer engaged in a cover up of the death threat against the whistle-blower to crimes related to the record setting Worldcom Bankruptcy case. Only a Federal Special Prosecutor stands a chance at unraveling the Spitzer family organized crime connections.

Posted by: DeathThreatVictim | May 1, 2008 1:17:09 AM

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