Talk about hypocrisy. According to the New York Times,former New York Governor and Attorney General Eliot Spitzer wants then Attorney General and now Governor Andrew Cuomo to release his emails in the Troopergate matter which Cuomo investigated. At the same time, Spitzer is attempting to block the release of his own emails from the time period that he filed suit as Attorney General against AIG and it’s then Chairman Maurice “Hank” Greenberg.
What is in Spitzer’s emails that he’s so desperate to hide? We may find out on February 15th.
In May 2005 Spitzer filed a civil suit against Maurice “Hank” Greenberg; a case that charged that the former AIG chief Greenberg and AIG’s former CFO Howard Smith orchestrated fraudulent accounting which falsely boosted the company’s stock prices. Spitzer’s emails came into question when it was believed they contained evidence of a personal animus held by then-Attorney General Spitzer against Greenberg. Spitzer may have been motivated more by political and personal gain and less by evidence that would validate his case against Greenberg.
The release of Spitzer’s AIG related emails may be imminent as Albany Supreme Court Justice Christopher Cahill, who ordered that the emails be released, gave the state attorney general’s office until February 15 to file an appeal. In the judicial opinion of Cahill, articulated in Matter of Application of Howard I. Smith v. New York State Office of the Attorney General, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman “has both the responsibility and obligation to gain access to the private e-mail account of former Attorney General Spitzer to determine whether documents contained therein should be disclosed.”
If the speculation about the correspondence is proven true, then, due to prosecutorial misconduct, the 2005 financial frauds lawsuit against Greenberg could be dropped which would further exonerate the founder of the insurance company. The 2005 suit led to the removal of Greenberg from AIG and was prelude to the company’s financial collapse.
Current Attorney General Schneiderman has been deliberately unhurried in the release of the emails. Rather than turn over the emails upon a court order issued in May 2012, the attorney general filed an appeal in an attempt to stonewall the proceedings. The obstruction put forth by the attorney general came only after Spitzer complained the Schneiderman was not aggressive enough in his efforts to block release of the emails and questioned Schneiderman’s abilities as a lawyer.
According to a New York Law Journal story, Spitzer said he was “substantially disappointed” in Schneiderman’s lack of action against the court order which “to go uncontested is just poor litigation and makes me wonder about the skills with which (Schneiderman is) handling other cases these day.”
What brand of Spitzer-induced vitriol towards Greenberg is contained in the emails can only be guessed at. Reveling in his reputation as “Sheriff of Wall Street,” Spitzer excelled only at blackmailing businessmen into guilty pleas with the threat of ruining their company’s stock value through leak and investigation. When it came to going to court, Spitzer was not so good – he lost more than 80% of his prosecutions against those stout enough to go to trial in the face of his bully tactics.
When former US Ambassador John Whitehead, a titan of Wall Street, wrote in defense of his friend, AIG’s Hank Greenberg, in the Wall Street Journal, Spitzer called Whitehead to threaten him saying, “It’s now a war between us and you’ve fired the first shot,” Whitehead quoted Spitzer as saying. “I will be coming after you. You will pay the price. This is only the beginning and you will pay dearly for what you have done. You will wish you had never written that letter.” FOX TV host Sean Hannity also reported a threatening foulmouthed phone call from the attorney general.
A juicier indication of what may lie in the sought-after files came by way of another former New York Attorney General, Dennis Vacco. Last July, in an affidavit, Vacco recalled an incident from September 2004, before the civil lawsuit was filed, in which Spitzer “gratuitously made several derogatory, deeply personal and highly inappropriate expletive-laden comments about Maurice R. Greenberg and his son Jeffrey W. Greenberg.”
Vacco went public with his story after hearing allegations that Spitzer’s civil case may have been more personal than professional. “I’m now motivated about my concern over these emails and I don’t think we ought to have government officials who are prosecutors and law enforcement officials being able to conduct business in a shadowy fashion,” Vacco told CNBC upon filing the affidavit. “I believe if these charges were unfounded and politically motivated and now you add to it that there might have been some shadowy e-mail accounts that helped advance the investigation during the investigation, I think that is inappropriate.”
At the time of the Vacco affidavit, CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo nailed Spitzer in an interview in which it was revealed that Spitzer threatened the law firm used by Hank Greenberg’s to represent him. Spitzer continues to insist that Greenberg is guilty of fraud when no state or Federal court has reached any such judgment.
“When you act like the judge, the jury and the executioner, it’s important for our viewers to understand what went on and give people the benefit of the doubt if in fact there is no evidence supporting that,” Bartiromo told Spitzer.
The issue will come to a head on February 15, when, unless Schneiderman comes forth with an appeal, Judge Cahill’s order to render the delivery of the emails will be imminent. Perhaps Hank Greenberg will get his Valentine’s Day present, albeit a day late. For Spitzer, Valentine’s Day might best be spent rounding up the girls and hiking up the black socks, it could be a hell of a hangover.