Thursday, February 18, 2016

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. Recuses Himself From The Investigation Into Eliot Spitzer

Manhattan Prosecutor Asks to Be Recused From Spitzer Inquiry

Cyrus R. Vance Jr.

The Manhattan district attorney has moved to recuse himself from the criminal investigation into an allegation that former Gov. Eliot Spitzer assaulted a 26-year-old woman at the Plaza Hotel, saying the close ties between his office and Mr. Spitzer had created an apparent conflict of interest.

The district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., made a formal request on Wednesday to the deputy administrative judge for New York City courts to have the case transferred to the district attorney’s office in another borough, Mr. Vance’s aides and court officials said. The request was expected to be granted, but the judge, Fern A. Fisher, had not taken action by Wednesday night.

Mr. Vance’s request comes as the investigation has hit a wall, law enforcement officials said. The woman, who initially said she had been choked by Mr. Spitzer, declined to press charges and has since left the country, these officials said on Wednesday.
Eliot Spitzer

“We are at a standstill now, absent a complainant,” said Stephen P. Davis, the deputy commissioner of public information for the New York Police Department. “If she would change her mind we would have to reconsider, but what we would have to have is her telling us what happened and saying she wants to press charges.”

Mr. Spitzer resigned as governor of New York in 2008 after it came to light that he had patronized prostitutes.
Travis divorced her husband, Michael, in 2013, but kept his last name.

The investigation into the alleged assault began on Saturday about 8:05 p.m., when the woman, Svetlana Zakharova Travis, called the police from a hotel room and said she had cut her wrist, the authorities said. When the officers arrived, they found Mr. Spitzer in her room. There were bloodstains and broken glass on the floor.

Mr. Spitzer’s lawyer said he had a previous relationship with Ms. Travis. At her request, he had booked the room for her and had visited her on Saturday afternoon, talking with her about her plans to return to her native Russia, the lawyer, Adam Kaufmann, said.

Because she was bleeding from her arm, Ms. Travis was taken to Mount Sinai West, formerly St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center, where she told nurses and doctors that Mr. Spitzer had attacked her, officials said. Hours later, at the Midtown North Precinct station house, she told detectives that Mr. Spitzer had pushed her down on a bed and choked her, but then said she did not want to press charges, law enforcement officials said. She departed on a flight to Russia on Sunday.

Ms. Travis’s decision not to press charges has not ended the inquiry, police officials and prosecutors said. Having executed search warrants, detectives are still reviewing telephone and computer records related to the case, one law enforcement official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case.

Through his lawyer, Mr. Spitzer has denied he assaulted Ms. Travis. He maintains Ms. Travis even sent him an email on Monday, stating that her report to the police was “all fake,” and swearing, on the contrary, that Mr. Spitzer had tried to save her from a suicide attempt.

“Ms. Travis has recanted any claim of an assault, and made it clear, in fact, that Eliot tried to assist her,” Lisa Linden, a spokeswoman for Eliot Spitzer, said. “We are confident that whoever looks at the facts will reach the same conclusion.”

Officials in Mr. Vance’s office said the ties between the former governor and the office were too close to erase doubts about impartiality. Some of Mr. Vance’s top aides, including his deputy chief of staff and his executive assistant, were top aides to Mr. Spitzer when he was governor. Mr. Spitzer’s daughter also worked for the office as a paralegal.

Beyond those connections, Mr. Spitzer has had a long relationship with the office itself, having started his career there as a prosecutor in 1986. The former governor was also a political ally of Mr. Vance, both Democrats. In 2007, for instance, he appointed Mr. Vance to the New York State Commission on Sentencing Reform.

Joan Vollero, a spokesman for Mr. Vance, said the district attorney did not believe there is a direct conflict of interest that would make it impossible for his assistants to do their jobs. “However, due to Mr. Spitzer’s personal and professional connections to this office, we have decided to seek recusal to avoid any appearance of impropriety,” she said.

Correction: February 18, 2016 
An earlier version of this article misstated the year that former Gov. Eliot Spitzer appointed Cyrus R. Vance Jr. to the New York State Commission on Sentencing Reform. It was 2007, not 2009.

Spitzer’s work was as reckless as his private life

One of the more effective, albeit disingenuous, narratives of the American left goes something like this: The business community is evil and must be punished for the sins it has committed or may yet commit.
Its popularity on the left is growing, egged on by President Obama, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and radical Sen. Elizabeth Warren — even at times by Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.

 But they weren’t the ones who mainstreamed it. No, I’m afraid, the modern equivalent of this demagoguery comes from a darker, more ambitious and more volatile place: the mind of Eliot Spitzer.
Yes, the former New York governor and state attorney general — when he was known as the “Sheriff of Wall Street” — has been in the news a lot the last couple of days afterpolice responded to a complaint that he allegedly choked Svetlana Travis, 25, at the Plaza Hotel over the weekend. Spitzer denied the choking incident, and Travis has left the country for her native Russia without filing charges.
Whatever you make of this episode (the woman is less than half his age with an apparently spotty employment record), it’s fair to say it isn’t Spitzer’s lone lapse of judgment. Aside from his crazy behavior as governor (remember how he was accused of using state police to spy on a political opponent?), who can forget the reason he was ultimately forced out of office: a federal sting operation that caught him having sex with a hooker in Washington, DC.
This rendezvous, as I pointed out in this paper back in 2013, was paid for in part by New York’s taxpayers because the ex-gov muscled his way into a congressional subcommittee meeting and used state resources to cover his travel expenses.
(Spitzer paid for the hooker himself.)
But these are mere symptoms of Spitzer’s larger disorder: recklessness that manifests itself not just in his personal life, but in his professional one as well, where he continually pursued political prosecutions against all reasonable evidence.
This is something voters should consider whenever they hear Warren or Sanders parrot their Spitzer-inspired bile on the campaign trail, or when another ambitious prosecutor looks to make his political bones on the backs of the business community with nebulous evidence.
Or if Spitzer, as he did just a couple of years ago, attempts to return to public life.
Of course, Spitzer didn’t invent the idea of using Wall Street prosecutions as a springboard to higher office. Indeed, the great Mayor Rudy Giuliani used that playbook as US attorney and we were lucky to have him.
But Spitzer did reach new heights in his self-aggrandizement and new lows in basing many of his prosecutions as attorney general on nebulous evidence that resulted in failed cases — something that has become a benchmark for the left ever since.
On his watch there were lots of press conferences and left-wing media adulation as he threw mud at his targets — but none of his top white-collar bad guys went to jail. Those who fought back often had success.
Maybe the most blatant example came in 2005 when Spitzer accused Hank Greenberg of using shady accounting to gin up profits at the insurer he ran, AIG. Forget for a moment that Greenberg denied the charges and the numbers involved were picayune; the hoopla eventually forced Greenberg to resign and sent the company into management disarray.
Spitzer didn’t seem to care. He used the AIG case to propel himself into the governor’s mansion in 2007 while taking to the airwaves to label Greenberg a “fraud” even before filing any charges.
Eventually, a far worse financial calamity would hit AIG. The new, Greenberg-less management ramped up so much risk at AIG, the company’s insolvency became one of the triggers for the 2008 financial crisis.
And as for the case against Greenberg: It exists as a shell of what Spitzer initially brought with nearly all the charges having been dropped. The 90-year-old Greenberg maintains his innocence and has sued Spitzer for libel, for good measure.
As far as I’m concerned, the tribulations of Spitzer’s personal life are a mere symptom of a broader dysfunction of reckless, ends-justify-the-means politicking that, I’m afraid, is here to stay.
Thank you, Eliot.
Charles Gasparino is a Fox Business Network senior correspondent.

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