Tuesday, March 11, 2008

IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDING?(reprinted from CBS)

IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDING?

Republicans Set Deadline For Governor's Ousting: 'I've Asked Him To Resign'

NEW YORK (CBS) ― If Gov. Eliot Spitzer opts to roll the dice and not resign, state Republican leadership will force him to go all-in and call for his impeachment from office, according to a state Assemblyman, who admitted he asked the governor to step down.

Sources told CBS 2 HD shortly after it was reported that the Democratic governor was linked to a prostitution ring that he would likely hand in his resignation, which could happen within the next 36 hours.

One way or another, the clock is ticking on Spitzer's next move.

A throng of media members camped outside Spitzer's Upper East Side apartment on 5th Avenue between 79th and 80th streets Tuesday morning should any new developments break. It's believed Spitzer was holed up inside receiving counsel from advisors and weighing the possibility of resigning.

Many seem to agree that will happen sooner than later.

State Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco (R-Schenectady) told CBS 2 HD that he spoke with Lt. Governor Paterson Monday evening and that the two discussed Paterson taking on a new role of leadership, leading Tedisco to believe that action was "forthcoming."

Tedisco said if Spitzer does not resign according to a 48-hour deadline that's been imposed, state Republican leadership will call for impeachment proceedings to begin.

"I've asked him to resign," Tedisco said. "We'll give him 24 to 48 hours. I think that's plenty of time."

Spitzer, though, was clearly taking the time to examine his legal options. A spokesman said the governor had retained the Manhattan law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind Wharton & Garrison, one of the nation's most prominent.

The news of Spitzer's alleged transgression set off one of the largest scandals in modern New York state political history.

During a news conference Monday afternoon, Spitzer, 48, apologized to his family and the public, but did not go as far as to explain why.

"I have acted in a way that violates my obligations to my family and violates my, or any, sense of right and wrong," he said in a brief statement. "I have disappointed and failed to live up to the standard I expected of myself.

"I must now dedicate some time to regain the trust of my family," he said alongside his wife, Silda Wall Spitzer, who was visibly upset as he spoke.

The couple has three teenage daughters together.

The announcement not only shook up New York's political infrastructure, but political pundits who took to heart Spitzer's promise that he'd keep corruption and scandal out of Albany were stunned to learn of the news.

"Eliot Spitzer was supposed to be the guy that refurbished the Democratic party and cleaned up Albany, so this is much more shocking than it would be for any other incumbent," political consultant Norman Adler told CBS 2 HD.

"I'm sure that more champagne is being filled in Albany today than in the last five years," he added.

Despite the expectations of a resignation, some experts say Spitzer should take the time to weigh his options before stepping down.

"This is one of the most intelligent, brightest elected officials in the region. You don't change governors of New York lightly, and I think it would be a mistake to act precipitously," political consultant Joseph Mercurio told CBS 2 HD.

"I think first things first, he has to resolve his relationship with his wife. He has to look to his rabbi and make personal decisions first," Mercurio said. "It's really initially up to him before the rest of us react."

According to law enforcement officials, Spitzer first came under suspicion because of cash payments from several bank accounts to an account operated by the call girl ring, Emperor's Club VIP. Four organizers of the agency were arrested last week.

The governor was always the target of the investigation and was tracked using court-ordered wiretaps that appear to have recorded his arranging for a prostitute named "Kristen" to meet him at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. the day before Valentine's Day.

Spitzer allegedly paid for the call girl to take a train from New York to Washington, a move that opened the transaction up to federal prosecution because she crossed state lines. The governor hasn't been charged with any crime, but experts say his legal problems may have less to do with prostitution and more to do with his attempt to conceal the purpose and source of the cash payments.

That could amount to a crime called "structuring," which carries a penalty of up to five years in prison.

In the meantime, aides to Paterson were feverishly working to shore up support and preparing lawmakers for a changeover. Paterson, a Brooklyn native who is legally blind, would become the state's first black governor.

Paterson is said to be more liberal than Spitzer and he's taken the administration lead on issues like stem cell research and increasing the role of minority and women owned businesses in the state. Sphere: Related Content

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