Former Governor, Attorney General, and “Client #9” Eliot Spitzer may have had more to hide than the illicit sex that cost him the top job in New York State. That would seem to be the only reason Spitzer’s successor as Attorney General is dragging his feet on releasing e-mails sent by Spitzer regarding the state’s prosecution of American International Group (AIG) and its former chief executive, Hank Greenberg.
Then-Attorney General Spitzer brought a civil case against Greenberg for alleged accounting errors relating to the company’s insurance loss reserves–a case that is ongoing, despite Greenberg’s departure from AIG.
In May, a New York appeals panel remanded the case for trial, upholding the trial court’s ruling against summary judgment. But now, it appears, Spitzer’s original case may have been motivated less by evidence than by political ambition.
There was significant speculation at the time that Spitzer brought his case against AIG and Greenberg that the prosecution was politically motivated. As Greenberg’s attorney stated in a court filing, “At that time, Spitzer was planning to run for Governor of the state of New York, and he has since admitted that his high-profile pursuit of Greenberg achieved its intended objective of enhancing his reputation as he pursued higher office. AIG was, at the time, one of the world’s most successful companies and Greenberg was the one of the world’s most successful business leaders.”
Furthermore, Spitzer may have pursued Greenberg as a form of personal revenge after Greenberg spoke up in defense of Dick Grasso and Kenneth Langone, the former head of the New York Stock Exchange and its compensation committee, respectively, whom Spitzer alleged had received excessive compensation.
Today, in the ongoing case against Greenberg, former New York Attorney General Dennis Vacco filed an affidavit alleging that at a September 28, 2004 meeting with Spitzer, “Mr. Spitzer gratuitously made several derogatory, deeply personal and highly inappropriate expletive- laden comments about Maurice R. Greenberg and his son Jeffrey W. Greenberg.
“Mr. Spitzer,” the affidavit continues, “was upset over statements Maurice R. Greenberg had recently made concerning the NYAG’s ‘over prosecution’ of minor infractions. Mr. Spitzer was clearly upset by Mr. Greenberg’s comments. Mr. Spitzer did not mention any specific conduct, except the above-referenced comments made by Maurice R. Greenberg, to explain his disdain for Maurice R. Greenberg and his son. It was evident to me that Mr. Spitzer was motivated by some unexplained personal animus.”
Vacco says that he was “very uncomfortable with the conversation and viewed it as unprofessional but did not say anything because Mr. Spitzer was very emotional about the topic and I did not want to compromise my client’s position.”
Vacco’s affidavit is an important window into Spitzer’s mind, and provides support for the notion that the Greenberg/AIG prosecution was political and personal for Spitzer. Now the question becomes what Spitzer’s e-mails as Attorney General will show. Howard Smith, a co-defendant in the Greenberg case, filed a petition with a court in Albany County asking for an order compelling the AG’s office to turn over Spitzer’s private emails from an account allegedly maintained by the Democratic National Committee. The judge ruled that the Attorney General’s office had an obligation to review the emails and turn over anything relevant. The Attorney General’s office has appealed the ruling rather than turning over the e-mails.
The emails are thought to exist because Spitzer is known to have used an outside email account during his time as Attorney General. That fact was revealed by Spitzer’s immediate successor as Attorney General (and now Governor), Andrew Cuomo. During Cuomo’s years as Attorney General, New York state investigated Spitzer’s role in “Troopergate,” in which state police had been allegedly used to spy on Republican leadership in the state legislature. Cuomo’s investigation proves that the email account exists, but the state’s prosecutors are still stalling in revealing what could be exculpatory–and highly embarassing–correspondence about the Greenberg case.
The question now is whether Spitzer’s emails will ever see the light of day. As Breitbart News reported two weeks ago, the current prosecutor in the AIG-Greenberg case, David Ellenhorn, has a checkered history when it comes to his former firm’s record of turning over relevant documents to governmental authorities.
Until Spitzer’s emails are made public, with the new testimony provided by Vacco, the assumption must be that Spitzer’s prosecution was anything but objective and apolitical.
Photo credit: Azi Paybarah