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Adulterers and Political Comebacks: The Cases of Spitzer, Weiner, and Sanford

Prostitution seems to be a Ticket to Ride the Political Waves

We have finally found a place for reformed over-sexed men who fell from political office as a result of disgraceful personal behavior. Last week, Eliot Spitzer announced his candidacy for New York City comptroller. One barrier in his way is whether he will receive a sufficient number of signatures to qualify for the ballot. That issue aside, I felt compelled to blog about this story because of the unusual irony that Spitzer is running against a woman who played a major role in his fall from grace. Moreover, Spitzer resigned as governor in 2008 amidst a scandal surrounding his use of prostitutes.

Manhattan Madam Kristin Davis has been campaigning for comptroller for half a year, and there’s an even chance that she could now directly face her former client in a debate, years after she was sent to jail for operating the call girl service that Spitzer frequented, even though Spitzer never saw any criminal prosecution.

Federal investigators found that Spitzer, known as Client No. 9 at Davis’s escort service, had been with a variety of prostitutes, but was most frequently with Ashley Dupre, 28, one of the more popular young women for whom Davis arranged discreet encounters.

Davis, who’s running as a Libertarian, told KPIX11 News that at her next encounter with Spitzer, which will be strictly political, she intends to grill him about what he stands for, noting the record and reputation he’s left thus far. I can just see it now. Davis asks Spitzer whether his character lapses should disqualify him from office. Spitzer answers: “Isn’t this like the pot calling the kettle black?”

To make matters even more bizarre in “The Big Apple,” disgraced former Congressman, Anthony Weiner, is running for mayor of NYC. Weiner is tied or slightly ahead of his opponent. How can this be given that he resigned his position after he was caught sending lewd photos of himself on Twitter?

They say politics is full of second chances. I get it. We all deserve to have a second chance after making a mistake. However, true remorsefulness and a promise not to repeat the offending behavior should be a prerequisite to receive the public’s forgiveness, not some political self-serving statement. For most politicians caught doing the wrong thing, their admission of guilt comes only after being caught. Their statements of remorse seem motivated by their being caught rather than true contrition. A good example is Mark Sanford, the former Governor of South Carolina, who recently won in a special election earlier this year to fill a vacant U.S. House seat in South Carolina.

Sanford had sounded a spiritual note in his resignation address, thanking “God’s role in all of this,” and calling himself an “imperfect man” who was “saved by God’s grace.” Of course he said these kinds of things. He is representing South Carolinians who care about such matters not New Yorkers who care more that Joey Chestnut ate 69 hot dogs in the annual July 4 Nathan’s hot-dog gluttony-fest.

The former governor beat Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch, the sister of comedian Stephen Colbert Busch [Stephen probably would have won], for the state’s 1st congressional district. Busch had made Sanford’s 2009 disappearance to be with his Argentinean mistress, which led to an ethics investigation into his travel, a major campaign issue.

I hope Spitzer and Weiner both win because then they can announce their new campaign manager – Heidi Fleiss, the former “Hollywood Madam.” Or, she might qualify for head of the Department of Commerce given her past successes. Fleiss made her first million dollars after only four months in the business as a madam, and that on her slowest night she made $10,000. By 1991 and 1992, she was so successful that she began rejecting girls to work for her. In June 1993, she was arrested for multiple charges, including attempted pandering. Pandering fits right in with the political climate in Washington, D.C., New York, and elsewhere.

Blog posted by Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, on July 9, 2013