Just days after Gov. Eliot Spitzer received multiple standing ovations in the Union Ballroom, The New York Times reported that he was being investigated for having ties to a prostitution ring. Following extensive media coverage and speculation, Spitzer announced his resignation yesterday afternoon.
The news first broke at about 2 p.m. on March 10; calls for the governor's resignation followed almost immediately. Allegedly, Spitzer's involvement with the ring was caught on federal wiretap. Prosecutors claim that Spitzer met with a prostitute identified as "Kristen" in a Washington hotel. "Kristen" worked for the Emperor's Club prostitute agency, which charges as much as $5,500 per hour.
Student reaction to the news was mixed, as some felt the resignation was appropriate.
"I think it's a good thing that he resigned...hopefully the new guy will know what he's doing and do as good a job as Spitzer did," said junior Ashley Caster.
Others, however, questioned the involvement of politicians' personal lives in their political careers.
Senior Brynn Simmons said, "Politicians need to responsible for their actions," but said she is disappointed that politics has become "more about personal life than issues."
"I don't think politicians' personal lives should have anything to do with their job," said freshman Grace Savoy-Burke.
Spitzer may face legal charges, as he did not reach any deal with the U.S. attorney's office. The Mann Act makes it a federal offense to take someone across state lines - in this case from New York to Washington, D.C. - for the purpose of prostitution. Spitzer may also have violated banking laws depending on how the prostitute was paid for.
Spitzer gave a speech at Geneseo on March 5 that outlined a proposal that would give a $4 billion endowment to the SUNY and CUNY systems. Spitzer's commendation of Geneseo, notably his reference to the student body as "a gem by any standard," was featured on the Geneseo home page, but was removed from the site within an hour of the news breaking.
"From a PR standpoint, it's embarrassing," said junior Ryan LaFever, referring to the celebration surrounding Spitzer's recent visit.
Addressing the College Senate on March 11, President Christopher Dahl said, "Nobody knows exactly what's going to happen…I have no predictions."
Although he said it was far too early to speculate on the effect of the situation on the proposed endowment, he described Lt. Gov. David Paterson, who spoke at Geneseo's 2007 Commencement, as "very interesting and able," and committed to higher education.
When Spitzer's resignation becomes effective on Monday, Paterson will become New York's governor.
Republican State Assemblyman James Tedisco, the Assembly minority leader, said that if Spitzer had not resigned by today, he would have introduced articles of impeachment.
"We have to continue with governance here and this is a total distraction," he said. "It's a circus here at the New York State Capitol."
The Republican Governors Association had also called on Spitzer to resign to "allow the people of New York to pursue honest leadership."
Spitzer took office in January 2007 after serving eight years as New York's attorney general.