U.S. attorney Michael Garcia is like one of those pit bulls who, once he’s sunk his teeth into you, can’t let go even if he wants to. Yesterday, I surmised that in sending the chief of the anti-corruption unit to a run of the mill court hearing, he was doing everything possible to alert the media to the fact that Eliot Spitzer was his target short of shouting it from the rooftops. Clearly, a Republican U.S. attorney has got to be elated to have such a powerful Democratic leader in his rifle sights and wants the world to know.
But now that Garcia has felled Spitzer is he happy? No, he’s preparing to twist the knife a little deeper to make sure Spitzer’s career isn’t “merely dead, but really most sincerely dead” (to quote the Wizard of Oz):
Federal prosecutors are investigating whether Gov. Eliot Spitzer used campaign funds in connection with his meetings with prostitutes, including payments for hotels or ground transportation, three people with knowledge of the investigation said.
Prosecutors have asked the governor’s lawyers about the travel arrangements for three trips, including his Feb. 13 rendezvous with a prostitute at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington. The United States attorney’s office in Manhattan has also asked about the governor’s use of car services during trips to Washington.
Come off it. The guy frequented prostitutes. You don’t want to go after him on the Mann Act because you’d surely look like you were persecuting him. The shell corporations are troubling but usually used to hide corruption and bribes which isn’t the case here. So you’re going to go after him for allegedly using campaign funds to pay for his assignations? That’s beyond lame especially since Spitzer has told not only his own staff but his own lawyer that it’s not true. Now it starts looking like they’re engaging in the old fashioned Rovian scorched earth tactics which we’ve witnessed with other politically motivated prosecutions by other U.S. attorneys (cf. Don Siegelman). Don’t just fell your political opponent, annihilate him.
The spirit of Rove lives on:
Two people briefed on the investigation said that one of the money laundering laws that prosecutors are trying to determine whether Mr. Spitzer broke prohibits “the intent to promote the carrying on of the specified unlawful activity.”
Charles H. Grice, a banking expert, said that statute was hardly ever used. “This is extremely arcane stuff,” he said.
A friend of Mr. Spitzer’s, who spoke on condition of anonymity, reacted with fury at the news that prosecutors appeared to be widening their inquiry to include money spent on campaign trips that may have involved trysts with prostitutes.
“At some point, this becomes piling on,” the friend said. The friend said that he would be stunned if “a judge or jury would convict a man for something like this. It’s very low grade,” adding, “Why would prosecutors pursue this?”
“The intent to promote the carrying on of the specified unlawful activity???” You’ve got to be kidding. That’s the best Garcia can come up with?? Spitzer is guilty of money laundering because he attempted to hide that he was paying a prostitute? Man, this guy is desperate.
I just hope that Garcia doesn’t back down because the surest way to topple an asshole like that is by watching him overplay his hand. If Garcia goes down this road he’ll be overplaying his big time. And I sure as hell hope that New York Democrats like Chuck Shumer and Hillary Clinton stare this guy in the face and get him to blink.