High-flying Spitzer hits ethical turbulence
Eliot Spitzer is running for governor as the best guy to clean up Albany, including its corrupt "pay-to-play" system of shaking down interest groups for campaign donations and other goodies.
So what the heck is he doing jetting around on the Gulfstream of a Wyoming businessman who wants to run race tracks and build casinos in New York?
It's one thing for Spitzer to pile up money and endorsements from insiders. Fish gotta swim, pols gotta grub for cash.
But accepting deeply discounted air travel from a gambling mogul doing lots of business with state government - as Spitzer and an aide did in May - is too cozy for comfort. The would-be Sheriff of Albany should be keeping a safe distance from favor seekers, not putting himself in a position where he owes them anything.
Spitzer was on a two-day fund-raising swing out West and needed to get from Phoenix to Tucson to Cincinnati and back to New York in a hurry. Casino developer Richard Fields got wind of his predicament and offered the use of his corporate jet. Thanks to him, Spitzer and his aide could meet their tight schedule, skip the long check-in lines and fly in style.
The offer practically screamed "conflict of interest." Fields is part of a group bidding to take over the Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga horse tracks. He also represents developers working with the Oneida Indians of Wisconsin to build a casino in the Catskills. Both issues will fall squarely on Spitzer's plate if he wins in November.
So this happened in May? And we're just hearing about it now? Had Spitzer been a Republican, I suspect that the story would've hit the papers before the private jet landed in Cincinnati. And speaking of Cincinnati (and Phoenix, and Tucson), what was Spitzer doing fundraising in Ohio and Arizona? Is our next Governor going to be bought and paid for by out-of-state interests? If he's going to run as the reform candidate, maybe Mr. Spitzer should read his own website:
We need to end the pay-to-play culture in Albany by making it against the law for those who do business with the state to give gifts to state employees or to donate to candidates for state office. And to level the playing field in our election process, we must adopt robust campaign finance reforms, including public financing for campaigns and independent, non-partisan redistricting reform.