Feds Defend Tough Pursuit of Spitzer

Corruption fears spurred unusually zealous hunt
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 21, 2008 3:22 PM CDT
New York State Gov. Eliot Spitzer announces his resignation amid a prostitution scandal as wife Silda looks on Wednesday, March 12, 2008 in his offices in New York City.    (AP Photo/Stephen Chernin)
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(Newser) – The Justice Department's unusual pursuit of the Emperor's Club—and its most famous client—grew out of suspicions of corruption, not moral turpitude, department officials tell the New York Times. Agents tailed Eliot Spitzer, tapped his phone, and pored over his financial records, steps more costly and intrusive than prostitution cases usually merit.

The dogged investigation also produced a graphic account of Client 9's escapades, not standard for a department with only a few hundred prostitution cases open—many of them pre-9/11 and most involving human trafficking, child exploitation, or millions of dollars. But a former prosecutor argues that the then-governor's stature forced the feds to probe, "if only to determine whether there was bribery or extortion involved."