"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Crimes of Spitzer

My contempt for Eliot Spitzer is absolute, but it seems to me (an amateur) that the criminal charges that are being talked about are just this side of phony. The Mann Act? Please. The financial structuring issue seems dubious to me as well, since I've seen no reports that any one of the services purchased by Spitzer cost more than the $10,000 threshold for a formal financial report; instead, it looks like he purchased a series of services, each of which cost less than $5000, but the total of which summed to more than $10,000. I can't believe that to be a structuring violation; over the course of a year, I spend more than $10,000 at the Agoura Deli for corned-beef sandwiches, $10.95 (plus tip) at a time. Is that "structuring"? Interstate travel to commit a crime? See comment on the Mann Act above. Wire fraud? The last refuge of prosecutorial scoundrels. Conspiracy to commit money laundering? It looks more to me like a conspiracy to preserve anonimity. Etc.

We aged veterans of the NKVD know that strict adherence to the letter of the law is essential; that's why confessions, however obtained, are necessary. Spitzer, of course, during his salad days as an Aspiring Governor knew this as well, which is the source of the supreme contempt that he enjoys from, well, everyone. Yes, he deserves to rot in hell, and, for that matter, to rot long before he gets there. But that is no excuse for the current efforts of the prosecutors to find some paddle, any paddle, that would fit his backside. This is supposed to be a nation governed by the rule of law.


David S. Bloch said...

Actually, I think the Mann Act claim has legs, no pun intended, if he arranged for "Kristen" to travel from NY to DC to tryst with him. And I think the allegations indicate just that.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Yes, it seems so, Mr. Bloch. Ben's point is well-taken, though, that the underlying "crime" isn't much of a crime, but is a pretty creepy reminder that Big Brother's watching.

Now it's one thing to monitor the movement of money to catch big fish involved in grand-scale heinousnesses, but to make trying to evade Big Brother a crime in itself, and to use this spying to nail Spitzer on a low-level, relatively harmless offense, well, Ben's NKVD reference is apt.

[However, since Spitzer himself vigorously pursued such tactics, he's earning few tears from the gallery.]