Friday, March 14, 2008

in case you were still wondering what this whole thing was about

From the near the end of the story in Friday’s New York Times:

A person close to Mr. Spitzer said that prosecutors told [Spitzer’s attorney Michele] Hirshman this week that they would be more inclined to pursue a criminal case against Mr. Spitzer if he remained governor because of the violation of public trust.

“The message was, ‘We’d be less inclined to press a case if he’s just a private citizen,’ ” a friend of Mr. Spitzer’s said in a telephone interview Wednesday night.

But, just to make sure he’s really dead:

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?”

Why indeed.

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