March 11, 2008

Should federalism fans fret when the feds prosecute prostitution?

Lawprof Rick Hills examines the topic (raise by Spitzer's problem). Go to the link if you want the explanation of when and why the commerce power covers prostitution. I want to highlight the political discussion at the end of Hills's post:
Does anyone else besides myself find the use of the Mann Act against a governor a mite disturbing, especially when enforced against someone who belong [sic] to a political party other than the President's? Given that the state governments seem completely capable of prohibiting prostitution if they wish to do so, is the enforcement of sexual morality by the federal government a completely gratuitous -- and, therefore, politically suspect -- exercise?

Of course, there are also the allegations of money laundering and perhaps mail fraud.
Also tax evasion (not by Spitzer, but by those who are making money).
But there is no claim that Spitzer defrauded the people of New York of honest services and, therefore, no role for the feds in illuminating local official dishonesty that local pols seek to shield. Of course, the governor's transgression occurred in Washington, D.C., an enclave in which the federal government has general police powers. But the feds are not enforcing any D.C. ordinance. Whose interest, therefore, are the feds serving? Not the interests of us New Yorkers: We can enforce -- or not-- our own laws against sexual hank-panky. Not the residents of D.C. The only obvious beneficiary of this prosecution is the majority leader of the New York Senate, Joe Bruno and, more generally, Republicans who have managed to eliminate a major political rival.
I think these concerns are valid, but visualize the disarray if Spitzer uses this line of argument to try to cling to power. Is this what Democrats should want going on during the presidential election season?

84 comments:

former law student said...

Spitzer benefited from the trafficking in human beings (formerly known as the White Slave Trade) which is a world-wide problem. Did the prostitutes freely choose their occupation? Did they freely choose their pimps? Did they freely choose their johns?

Wikipedia provides a succinct summary: The trafficking of human beings is the recruitment, transportation, harbouring, or receipt of people for the purpose of exploitation. It is estimated to be a $5 to $9 billion-a-year industry.[1] Trafficking victims typically are recruited using coercion, deception, fraud, the abuse of power, or outright abduction. Threats, violence, and economic leverage can often make a victim consent to exploitation.

Bissage said...

Should federalism fans fret when the feds prosecute prostitution?

Well, this guy sure did fret.

Mann, oh Mann!

Middle Class Guy said...

Reality check. What is ignored here is the investigation was never about prostitution. It was automatically triggered by banks due to irregular money transfers.

The prostitution situation was a result of an investigation into financial irregularities. It was never about prostitution and it will not end with prostitution.

While salacious and steamy, there will be no charges of prostitution or the Mann act. The alleged misconduct is not prostitution. The scandal is prostitution. Yes, he was caught on a federal wire tap arranging for services, but that is minor- unless it can be demonstrated that he compromised his position as governor to assist the Emperor's Club in any way.

The reality is he committed some type of financial misdeeds or missteps. It is up to the US Attorney to determine if they rise to the level of a crime.

If charged, he will be charged with financial crimes; the same kinds of crimes he so vigorously and some say abusively prosecuted.

I think it is much to early for academics and political academics to speculate on the constitutional, jurisdictional, or moral issues involved.

He is alleged to have violated federal regulations, rules, or laws regarding financial transactions- the investigation automatically triggered by the banks. He is on a federal wire tap arranging a crime- prostitution.

Until he is charged with something everything else is fuzzy headed speculation.

that-xmas said...

Overlawyered's Walter Olson is saying the Spitzer real problem is the moving of money around in ways to avoid detection by the Feds.

That's also the reason why the case was started in the first place, mysterious money moves by Spitzer raised red flags with the Feds. The fact that it went to pay for very high quality prostitutes is just frosting on the cake.

former law student said...

While salacious and steamy, there will be no charges of prostitution or the Mann act. The alleged misconduct is not prostitution. The scandal is prostitution.

Spitzer ordered a New York prostitute to meet and service him in DC, in violation of the Mann Act because the prostitute had to cross state lines to do so. He used an instrumentality of interstate commerce, a telephone, to do so. In faroff Illinois, Fitzgerald is prosecuting Rezko based on similarly flimsy federal pretexts. Did Hills protest the Rezko prosecution? I think not.

Spitzer's going down.

Elliott A said...

As a non-lawyer, my remarks may be naive.
As a client with a running account, he was a defacto participant in an illegal activity. He was derelict in not reporting the illegal activity, and by his participation was offering them a tacit protection from prosecution since he had a vested interest that this never happen. As a governor he broke his oath to uphold the laws of the state of NY and should be prosecuted (impeached) on that basis. I think the particular activity is irrelevant. Lastly, he did funny things to hide the money trail which must fit into the money laundering or racketeering statutes, all under the scope of the Feds. (Excepting the impeachment) Since he used the banking system and transported the woman across state lines into the Federal district, I don't think the federalism fans should have any honest complaint.

P. Rich said...

AA said: "Should federalism fans fret when the feds prosecute prostitution?"

Is excessive use of alliteration by professional word-merchants a punishable offense?

John Burgess said...

The term 'prostitution' covers a wide range of activities, all having to do with the transfer of sexual services for compensation.

There is a vast difference in morality, however, between taking the taking advantage of a woman with no other option for earning money than by renting her body and the soliciting sex from a woman who has chosen freely to rent her body.

Escorts who charge in the thousands of dollars are not crack addicts, mentally deranged, struggling from the depth of poverty. Many are university educated and have chosen this line of work because it pays awfully well for not a lot of heavy labor. Short of being an executive of a major firm, not many others make $1,000+/hr.

Whatever Spitzer's failings, 'trafficking in persons' is not one of them unless the term is far too broadly construed.

As others have noted, Spitzer is going to be hit with federal money laundering charges. That it was involved in a salacious activity only puts the cherry on top of the schadenfreude sundae.

Original Mike said...

They should prosecute the Mann Act, and everything else they've got on him (or, at least, use it to advantage in the plea bargin). That was Spitzer's M.O. when he was AG, and he did it in service of his own politcal ambitions.

Just desserts.

Susan said...

Although I guess it's not prosecutable, isn't his worst sin as a governor leaving himself open to blackmail by secretly dealing with a prostitution ring?

The Drill SGT said...

One can't forget this from 2007:

Governor Eliot Spitzer, Lieutenant Governor David Paterson and legislative leaders today announced an agreement on legislation that will combat the trafficking of human beings. The legislation makes Sex Trafficking and Labor Trafficking felony-level crimes and provides access to state social services for trafficking victims.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Building on Original Mike's idea, they should also prosecute Spitzer for some stuff that isn't even illegal. And the plea bargain should be as politically loaded and unrelated to the alleged offenses and non-offenses as possible-- say, replacing all the state's appointed officials with Republicans.

Zeb Quinn said...

For several reasons it's not just the prostitution beef. It's the whole package, the financial machinations, the interstate nature of the ciminal enterprise, and the participation in it by the very highest level of the excutive branch of New York state government. Does this all add up to appropriate federal jusridiction? I dunno, you make the call. Can New York state authorities be counted on to fully address it when it is so obviously corrupted?

Original Mike said...

Building on Original Mike's idea, they should also prosecute Spitzer for some stuff that isn't even illegal. And the plea bargain should be as politically loaded and unrelated to the alleged offenses and non-offenses as possible...

While that is also within Spitzer's M.O., and would constitue a second helping of just desserts, I find that my sense of right and wrong won't allow me to support your suggestion.

Middle Class Guy said...

FLS said...
In faroff Illinois, Fitzgerald is prosecuting Rezko based on similarly flimsy federal pretexts. Did Hills protest the Rezko prosecution? I think not.



Resko is being prosecuted as part of a larger and far ranging political corruption case that may eventually and hopefully bring our Governor down. Resko is a medium sized fish in a very big ocean.
They want Resko to flip.

As to Spitzer, the feds may have thrown out the prostitution angle to the media to force him into a plea deal or a resignation. He had to have been approached over the weekend, as he had meetings with his staff over the issue.

They got their man. Financial irregularities and prostitution. They only care about the head on the wall and the headline- plea deal, resignation, or both.

BTW, as one familiar with how they operate, the Feds do not close any political corruption cases and bring them to prosecution unless they have at least a 75% chance of prevailing in court.

If they had to publicly humiliate Spitzer to get a result, they would do it. No matter what, he gone- one way or the other.

Middle Class Guy said...

I just heard on the news that Spitzer may have had a slush fund and that is what triggered the investigations into financial irregularities.

It looks like he is standing in quicksand.

titusinfirstposition said...

All I care about is this specific acts that he did with the whore.

That is what is so important in this case.

I think many of us are losing it trying to talk about the laws-who gives a shit about the laws.

I want to know if he did her up the ass!

B said...

Sorry Ann - what idiocy!

Help me out here -

I flaunt and abuse the laws I don't like, even though I took an oath to uphold them. And it's okay, because you like me, and my positions?

If prostitution should be legal, then fine - partake all you want - when it's legal. Otherwise you are the very definition of hypocrite - and therefore should not be trusted with any of the publics resources - especially after pursuing and prosecuting others for the very thing you partook of.

Sheesh!

The citizens of New York guarantee their place among history's greatest imbeciles if they want to keep this guy as governor.

Trooper York said...

I took my troubles down to Madame Ruth
You know that pimp with the gold-capped tooth
She's got a pad down on Thirty-Fourth and Vine
She named me Love Client Number Nine

I told her that I was a flop with chics
I've been this way cause I got a tiny dick
She looked at my worm and she did a little squirm
She said, don’t worry you is Love Client Number Nine

She bent down and turned around and gave me a wink
She said, I'm gonna take it up right here over the sink
It smelled like turpentine, it looked like Indian ink
I held my nose, I closed my eyes, I took out my dink

I didn't know if it was day or night
I started stickin' everything in sight
But when I kissed a cop down on Thirty-Fourth and Vine
He arrested Love Client Number Nine

I held my nose, I closed my eyes, I took out my dink

I didn't know if it was day or night
I started stickin' everything in sight
But when I kissed a cop down on Thirty-Fourth and Vine
He arrested Love Client Number Nine

Love Client Number Nine
Love Client Number Nine
Love Client Number Nine

Paul Zrimsek said...

I flaunt and abuse the laws I don't like

Hey, if you've got it, flout it.

Hoosier Daddy said...

If I take a women to the theater, dinner, drop a couple hundred Benjamins and then we go back and shag like monkeys that is considered a damn good date.

Then again if I just hand her the $200 and skip the dinner and show and go straight to the horizontal mambo its illegal.

Great logic there.

Ann Althouse said...

B said..."Sorry Ann - what idiocy! Help me out here - I flaunt and abuse the laws I don't like, even though I took an oath to uphold them. And it's okay, because you like me, and my positions?"

First of all, it should be "flout," not "flaunt," but they don't seem to want to correct it. That alone is driving me nuts.

Anyway, selective prosecution is a problem that deserves consideration -- if that's what's happening. But anyone in politics should protect himself from attacks like this.

titusinfirstposition said...

I can't wait until the whore starts talking.

She's a whore and will definitely be talking for money.

The book should be great.

I bet we will get specifics on his hog. The size, if it curves to the left or right, obviously cut-he's a jew, balls-any shaving going on-how do they hang, perhaps a mushroom head? How many inches? What is the ratio of the stem of the hog in comparison to the head?

Also, what does his face do when he blows? That will be a valuable "tool" for us to know.

And how about when he blows? Does he shoot like a mad man and have quite a bit of length (perhaps over the whores head) to it or is it just a little squirt?

Middle Class Guy said...

AA said...
Anyway, selective prosecution is a problem that deserves consideration -- if that's what's happening. But anyone in politics should protect himself from attacks like this.


Is this selective prosecution or selective persecution? This started out as a public corruption case and morphed into prostitution. The Feds threw out the prostitution angle. They coulkd have just claimed he was a target in a corruption case and held the prostitution angle over his head.

I believe this was purely tactical on the Feds part to get a quick outcome and avoid a long, drawn out trial.

I do wonder who else is on the client list of the Emperor's Club.

titusinfirstposition said...

Also, when she's is sucking his hog does he wet his fingers and grab his titties-that we be incredibly helpful to know.

Was there any butt play?

Specifically, does he like a finger or two or three in his ass?

former law student said...

Resko is being prosecuted as part of a larger and far ranging political corruption case that may eventually and hopefully bring our Governor down.

As I recall, the charges in the complaint were purely intrastate; the only federal connection was that interstate instrumentalities were used: the telephone, FedEx, UPS, and the mail.

former law student said...

does he like a finger or two or three in his [output port]?

or a plastic encapsulated Slim Jim from the minibar.

Trumpit said...

I say he shouldn't resign and that he should keep paying hookers for sex if that is what turns him on. The rest of you are just envious that he can afford a high-priced call girl. All you losers can afford to do is watch some lewd porno and masturbate while eating popcorn. The thought of Middle Class Guy doing that is doubly revolting. He needs to be prosecuted for polluting the blogosphere with his insufferable inanities. He should be put in a barrel and sent down Niagara Falls.

B said...

The majority of New York Times on the Web readers aren't in New York - and many, if not most, of them didn't really know or care about Gov Spitzer before yesterday:

First sentence of Times first news article on the Larry Craig scandal, August 28, 2007:

Senator Larry E. Craig, Republican of Idaho, was arrested in June by an undercover police officer in a men’s bathroom at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, and pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in the case three weeks ago.

Earliest mention of Spitzer being a Democrat in the articles yesterday and today exposing him:

Paragraph 3


"The New York Times - it's not US who's biased!"

Hoosier Daddy said...

The rest of you are just envious that he can afford a high-priced call girl.

Goddman right I'm envious. If I had that kind of coin to spend, I'd be riding this

Hot trim you can get almost anywhere. Sometimes only for the cost of a few drinks too.

The Drill SGT said...

Anyway, selective prosecution is a problem that deserves consideration -- if that's what's happening. But anyone in politics should protect himself from attacks like this.

OK, let's consider what happened.

- Spitzer is making lots of cash transactions at the bank.
- banks have to report those transactions as possible money laundering.
- FED's love corrupt politican investigation. why doing those turns you into a guliani or a spitzer and you can make a career off that.
- it is perfectly appropriate for the Feds to keep control of this and take it where it goes. one can argue that the Feds can investigate a governor, where as the NY AG, a crony of spitzer can't.
- an the irony of spitzer being spitzered the way he did so many folks on Wall Street is juicy.

Smilin' Jack said...

Should federalism fans fret when the feds prosecute prostitution?

Well, if they fail to prosecute, it will just encourage other governors to do the same thing. And then the question will be, "Should federalism fans fret when the feds facilitate fornication?"

titusinfirstposition said...

Was there any fowl in the room at the time of this escapade?

Turkey?
Ducks?
Pheasants?
Patridge?
Chickens?
Ostrich?
Finchs?
Humming Birds?
Falcons?
Any kind of worbler?
Peacocks?
Woodpeckers?
Cockatoos?
Pelicans?

And if so, what were these birds doing?

PatHMV said...

I'd much rather he be prosecuted for prostitution and the Mann Act than some "structuring" charge. While I understand the benefits of Currency Transaction Report requirements and the like, those reporting requirements should be used only as a tool to uncover actual illegal behavior. Mere violation of those reporting requirements should not be a crime, in and of themselves. I don't think I should be subject to jail time simply because my neighbor paid me in cash for my car or something like that and I failed to report the transaction. Similarly, I don't think my bank should have to rat me out to the feds just for using some cash for something. It's none of the feds' business, unless I actually go on to use that cash to hide income from the IRS or to commit some crime.

At any rate, Ann, once the feds started investigating on the basis of evidence suggesting Spitzer was furtively moving cash about, they really have no choice other than to prosecute him for whatever crimes they may discover while undertaking that investigation. They can't have the governor, or anybody, on wiretap hiring a hooker without then charging that crime.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I want to know if he did her up the ass!

Someone needs a severe spanking ;-)

As a former Banker and now in the Investment field all employees are required to attend an annual meeting/training on money laundering. We must file a SAR if any transactions that are on the list occur or face personal fines and possible sanctions against the financial institution.
http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=154555,00.html

Failure to file a suspicious activity report may lead to civil and criminal penalties. A civil penalty may apply for each willful violation of the reporting requirements. The amount of the penalty is not to exceed the greater of the amount involved in the transaction (not to exceed $100,000), or $25,000. Any person who willfully violates the reporting requirements may be subject to criminal penalties, including a fine as great as $250,000 or five years imprisonment.

MSBs and their employees are prohibited from disclosing to a person involved in the transaction that a suspicious activity report has been filed. Further, each MSB or MSB employee is protected from civil liability for any SAR that they filed



These are all rules that Mr. Sptizer was WELL aware of and chose to break the law. I agree the prostitution is just icing on the cake. :-)

Bruce Hayden said...

I don't worry at all about the US DoJ prosecuting a politician of the opposite party when caught like this. Otherwise, you would be giving them a "get out of jail free" card. And, as is obvious with a number of governors, ranging from Spitzer through McGravey, there are plenty of corrupt Democratic politicians out there who need to be prosecuted (and, yes, there are plenty of Republican politicians, but that wasn't the assertion).

From Inwood said...

To answer your alliterative question, perhaps federalism fans forgot to fret faster.

As Elliot Ness fans know, this is not new tho prosecuting white collar crimes took a quantum leap in the '80s & Rudy (remember him) became a star. Then came Eliot S. who got the process named after him, "Spitzerization". Tho Eliot S’s main weapon was the NYS Martin Act.

Anecdotal evidence of public Eliot S idolization: I have two vastly successful business friends, non-lawyers, who came from the outta boros of NYC & made a lot of money, but who still somehow romanticize themselves as "the little guy". Somehow they believed Eliot's self publicizing & saw him as a re-incarnation of Tom Dewey (showing our age), who was now sticking it to "the man", the “imperial” CEO. By golly, these top hats were making much more than my friends & I & were, QED, "arrogant" SOBs who thought themselves "above the law" &, hey, anyway, there ought to be a law to stop these guys or Spitzer should be applauded for creative lawyering. What, he never went to trial on any of his cases? Nevermind. These guys deserved to be put in jail. My point, precisely: if they deserved jail then Eliot was too lenient on them!

And, they went on, all that smooth lawyer talk of these top hat execs' unique contributions to the capitalist system or their right to some twisted form of due process was nothing more than a feeble attempt on their part to hold on to their ill-used positions of obscene power & their ill-gotten gains. And that Dick Grasso (another guy from the outta boros)….

Now, schadenfreude alert for Eliot S re techniques of prosecutors.

Hoosier Daddy said...

FED's love corrupt politican investigation. why doing those turns you into a guliani or a spitzer and you can make a career off that.

And then you too can run a failed presidential campaign or spend $4K on some high end tang and watch your political career get creamed on national TV.

That's why he should have just gone to Vegas. It would have been cheaper and legal and he could have caught a Tom Jones show before he left.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Someone needs a severe spanking ;-)

DBQ, somehow I don't think that would be a deterrent to Titus.

DaveG said...

especially when enforced against someone who belong [sic] to a political party other than the President's?

So he wouldn't be prosecuted under a Democratic President because, well, it's only sex, but he shouldn't be prosecuted under a Republican President because, well, it might look like they're out to get him. He wouldn't be prosecuted under a Libertarian President, because it would be legal.

Man, it must be wonderfully liberating to be a Democrat.

Trooper York said...

"Someone needs a severe spanking
;-")

You are so right. I think I will suggest it to the wife tonight. I've been a bad, bad boy.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Who said I was talking about you guys? /wink

Richard Dolan said...

"Selective prosecution is a problem." Agreed, but the generalization is rarely helpful.

Assuming Spitzer gets charged, it is helpful to remember that prosecutors are supposed to exercise discretion, and to decline to bring charges where circumstances indicate that justice would not be served by doing so. That a prosecutor declines to bring charges in an ordinary case does not mean that something is awry when the same charge is brought in more extraordinary circumstances.

To take the discussion from the theoretical to the real, the problem today is that prosecutors rarely decline to prosecute: if you come to their attention and they have enough to charge you with a crime, chances are that you will be charged. The same phenomenon happened with the sentencing guidelines -- too much disparity was thought to be a problem -- and the result was that harsh sentences became the norm. If selective prosecution becomes the problem, the (unfortunate but likely) result will be to charge 'em all, just so no one thinks that the prosecutor was playing favorites.

And, taking the logic a step further, if the point is to select one out of many potential defendants for prosecution "pour encourager les autres," it makes sense to focus on high profile, public figures like Spitzer.

A little more selectivity would not necessarily be a bad thing, even if it means that the occasional politico gets nailed for an offense that an ordinary Joe might skate past.

Pogo said...

These bank reporting rules are an abomination and should trouble people. Allowing -or worse, demanding- state or federal intrusions into your accounts on a routine basis is entirely against liberty.

This has been coerced on and off throughout the centuries, and is often a hated method of tax collection. As constructed, it means we have zero privacy from the State.

What business is it of the feds if Spitzer tries to hide money from his wife in order to see a madam?

Look, I hate Spitzer. He's a demon, part of the a monstrosity that devours personal liberty. And now that same monster has eaten him.

More evidence that we're turining into a giant nanny state, rife with pecksniffs rooting around in your home, your safe, your mail, and your garbage, in order to coerce compliance with some bullshit or another. What a bunch of drones we've become.

EnigmatiCore said...

"While I understand the benefits of Currency Transaction Report requirements and the like, those reporting requirements should be used only as a tool to uncover actual illegal behavior."

You mean like prostitution?

Or just some crime that you find more worthy of being considered crimes?

Middle Class Guy said...

Trumpit said...
The rest of you are just envious that he can afford a high-priced call girl. All you losers can afford to do is watch some lewd porno and masturbate while eating popcorn.


Sorry to disappoint you Strumpit, but I am not into porn. I consider it exploitation, just like prostitution is. Of course if you believe that the exploitation of humans is a guaranteed right for your own prurient satisfaction then you are a self loathing, pathetic creature, lower than the beasts and not fit to associate with humans.



BTW, I have done much more dangerous things than going over a waterfall in a barrel and I am still here.

Trooper York said...

Was there any fowl in the room at the time of this escapade?

Any kind of worbler?
Peacocks?
Woodpeckers?
Cockatoos?
Pelicans?

Actually, it was the governor of New Jersey who had the problem with a Cock-or-two.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

ilesq said...

Isn't it a little late to be talking about Federalism? That horse left the barn along time ago. "States rights" has been defensive cry of scoundrels since before the Civil War. The Mann Act was passed in 1910. Spitzer utilized the media of interstate commerce - phone, email. He arranged for a prostitute to travel across state lines. He avoided Federal restrictions on disclosure of funds transfers. If Spitzer was not looking to be indicted Federally, he should not have committed any Federal crimes. Now is not the time to be conveniently re-thinking a century of Federalism.


Just because the President is a Republican and Spitzer is a Democrat doesn't mean that he has a free pass to commit Federal crimes. The same people who are urging the Feds to go easy on Spitzer would be shout for the head of a Republican governor under a Hillary/Obama administration and notions of Federalism would be the furthest thing from their minds. Such arguments are particularly humorous coming from the Left, which has supported the huge growth in Federal power since at least the time of the New Deal.

Revenant said...

Although I guess it's not prosecutable, isn't his worst sin as a governor leaving himself open to blackmail by secretly dealing with a prostitution ring?

I like to think that his worst sin was using the government to investigate his political enemies, but that's unrelated to this particular scandal.

Spitzer's been dirty for a long time. This is just the first thing he got caught red-handed at.

dick said...

What bothers me about this article is that the writer is trying to obfuscate the case. The case is not about prostitution. It is about financial misjudgements by Spitzer.

This is the same thing that the Clinton crew did with Monica. The case was mostly about the crimes Clinton did with the Travelgate, Filegate, Cattle futures, etc. The media and the Clintonistas pushed it off as being all about Monica.

They are trying to do the same thing with this one. Spitzer is caught with financial misdeeds. Since one of them had to do with prostitution, if they can get the attention off the financial misdeeds and onto the prostitution, then they can call it hypocrisy like Craig and Vitters. It is not like Craig and Vitters. Those were about sex. This is about screwing around with the bucks and we should not let the media and the LLL dems change this as they would like to.

PatHMV said...

Dick, the only "financial misdeeds" here involve his taking steps to conceal the withdrawal of thousands of dollars of cash to pay for the prostitute.

And in fact, I don't know that I so far see a case here for "structuring" the withdrawal of cash intentionally to avoid the mandatory Currency Transaction Reports. You only have to file those if you take out more than $10,000 in cash in any one day. I haven't seen any allegation that he did that. The bank is required to report "suspicious activity," not merely "criminal" activity. Two $4,000 or $5,000 withdrawals in the space of one week may be suspicious, but that doesn't make them criminal.

Enigmaticore... imagine that Spitzer used the same methods to withdraw his own, personal funds in cash, but instead of paying a hooker in D.C., he flew to Las Vegas and legally paid for sex at a brothel outside of town. His only reason for taking out the cash was so that his wife wouldn't see "The Mustang Ranch" on any credit card bill or cancelled check. Do you believe that it would be right and just for the government to prosecute him just for taking out the cash over a period of several days without filing a Currency Transaction Report?

Original Mike said...

If you're looking for big time crime or terrorism, isn't $10k a little on the low side? When was this law written?

dick said...

Pat,

And you have seen the whole case and all the exhibits to know that what you surmise if the whole thing? I doubt it. I don't think that the people in the NYSD would go after this schmuck with just that.

dick said...

Pat,

Besides the problem is not prostitution. The problem is financial. That is what he is being charged with and that is what the whole case is about. That prostitutes are involved just makes it more salacious and the press loves salaciousness. They just don't care for truth.

Middle Class Guy said...

PatHMV said...
Two $4,000 or $5,000 withdrawals in the space of one week may be suspicious, but that doesn't make them criminal.


I believe they were money transfers between accounts and then payments to another business account run by they Emperors Club. Apparently there was more than one or two transfers which triggered the mandatory notification process. Whatever, the transfers automatically tripped the notifications to the IRS. They are mandated to investigate and determine criminality, or not.

Middle Class Guy said...

Original Mike said...
If you're looking for big time crime or terrorism, isn't $10k a little on the low side? When was this law written?


When ten grand was a lot of money.

Revenant said...

Do you believe that it would be right and just for the government to prosecute him just for taking out the cash over a period of several days without filing a Currency Transaction Report?

I think it would be just for the simple reason that it is exactly the kind of legalistic "within the letter of the law but not its spirit" bullshit that Spitzer built his career on. It would be like catching John Ashcroft with some barnyard porn and prosecuting him for obscenity.

Structuring transfers in order to avoid the government reporting obligation is, as I understand it, illegal. Maybe it shouldn't be -- hell, I'll come right out and say "it shouldn't be". But it is, and you can bet your ass that nobody in THIS thread would get to say "oh but I wasn't doing anything BAD with the money" and have the government say "oh that's ok then". Hell no. We'd be spending that money we'd withdrawn on expensive lawyers, trying to avoid a stint in federal PMITA prison.

Original Mike said...

I believe they were money transfers between accounts and then payments to another business account run by they Emperors Club. Apparently there was more than one or two transfers which triggered the mandatory notification process.

What type of transaction is covered by this law? Usually, it's descibed as "cash". If that's the case, transfers between accounts wouldn't seem to be covered.

Cedarford said...

1. Truth #1. The Federal Government has unquestioned authority to regulate interstate commerce, and to intervene when interstate commerce involves trans0state illegal activity like drug rings, fraud rings, prostitution rings. The "Federalism argument" is false.

2. Truth #2. Johns are rarely prosecuted under the Mann Act. Same with the whores. It is the pimps and organized crime that targeted.

3. Truth #3. There is nothing illegal per se about moving large sums of money around. I got a nice letter from the IRS in 2002 asking me to contact them and explain several money transfers I made between banks in different states, a dummy shell corporation I had inc'd in Delaware. Nothing more than shifting some of my money around to set up for a venture that never met the business plan I had in the initial phases....
Nothing illegal.
Just wiring money around here, even abroad (within constraints like avoiding certain countries) is not illegal. Only if financial crimes are involved. And those statutes are not triggered just because you wire funds or do multistate credit card transactions.

What is amazing is Spitzer was raised in a family of crafty wheelers and dealers in the real estate and banking world of NYC that know where the lines are, where they can be fudged, where they can be crossed with impunity for greater enrichment.

And with 1590 SATs and perfect LSAT score and Editor of Harvard Law Review - he isn't the family dullard.

Which makes his behavior stunning. He should know his credit cards will "pop up" the names of any parties to transactions, and while the prostitution ring hid behind a corporation, no doubt on the first inquiry on the suspicious firm they got names from organized crime or organized crime associates popping up with red flags.
And he an AG and Governor, which instantly vaulted the association with organized crime to the highest level of law enforcement - because as opposed to ordinary Johns - Spitzer had the power to do those crime figures huge favors, in return for favors.

This stuff suposedly goes back years - Spitzer and whores - and if so, he may have gotten a free "around the world" or two from some escorts, but in return he very well could have avoided prosecuting the crime figures - not just in the prostitution ring, but their other underwold ventures as quid pro quo. Or blackmailed to do so.
Or selectively busting their competitors in prostitution, organized labor, construction, TriState garbage & cement....while leaving the owners of the sex for pay business he patronized alone.

There has to be an investigation going back to when his judgment and oath to enforce the law was 1st potentially compromised, even if he resigns. To see if he stayed clear of enforcing the law on certain businesses while targeting others..

Roger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roger said...

Wow!!! This weeks political scene has become a conservatives "noctural emission."
The moralizing insufferable governor of NY caught up with postitutes--and can't even use the wide stance defense. The female VP nominee of years past calls the golden boy an affirmative action candidate (well--not in so many words--wink wink wink). Too bad Bill Buckley could not have lived to see the end of liberalism as it plays out in its bid for power.

Cedarford said...

Truth #4 - Original Mike said... If you're looking for big time crime or terrorism, isn't $10k a little on the low side? When was this law written?

Mohammed Atta and the Islamoids financed 9/11 very cheaply. 250 to 400K. Most spent in Germany and in transferring the combat teams that were to be muscle to the USA. Wire transactions were kept low and at random frequency, most under 10K. Except when the 4 suicide team commanders wired every cent left in their bank accounts back to the UAE Islamoid acting as middleman financier. That was a nice ballsy touch by KSM. With that, he forced the reality on the combat leaders - you have crossed your Rubicon, you are like Cortex setting fire to his landing ships - there is no turning back now..

Truth #5 - This is not about Spitzer as just a private citizen John. It is about Spitzer the Highest Law Enforcement official in New York, then Spitzer the Highest Elected Official who has appointment power over DAs, Judges, and budgetary power - embroiled in criminal activities involving financial transactions and possible compromise of oath of office - with organized crime figures.

It is about the potential corruption of a public official holding the two highest offices in New York as relate to law enforcement.

It is incredibly unlikely, but they have to look at if state funds were involved in any of his assignations - (Like a state jet wisking Eliot to a city where it turns out he had no state business, just a hot "date" with Mistress Monique). Given his family being worth close to a billion, unlikely, but other rich people are notorious penny pinchers trying to foist as much as possible of their expenses on the taxpayer or shareholders.

Truth #6 - Is that we do not know the exact status of his marriage. There could have been a falling out, a sexless marriage both agreed to keep going for "the sake of the children". Unfortunately, Spitzer didn't do the sleazy Giuliani/Kerik option of mistresses on the side - but went for illegal trim because it was so easy and affordable for a man of his wealth to just buy sex.

But then, unlike sleazy Rudi and Bernie, Eliot broke his oath of office by engaging in criminal activity in getting that nookie.

Truth #7 - Morals do matter. Even more so for a sanctimonious prick who lectured others for a decade on their moral turpitude. Who campaigned on the wonderfulness of his moral upstanding self - over lesser Americans he "brought to justice".

Mortimer Brezny said...

This is Silda Wall's fault.

She's a brilliant Harvard Law grad by all accounts. But she's too stupid to know that her angry, tempermental, politically ambitious husband might like to do her in the ass.

All she had to do was let him tap it from the back, and this scandal could have been avoided.

See, this is the problem with feminists. All Hillary had to do was suck a cock. All Silda had to do was bend over. Why even marry these power-hungry, alpha males if you can't satisfy them sexually? Just who do you think you are marrying?

Trooper York said...

Wow, Mort had his spinach today. Good show old man. Pip pip and huzza.

Trooper York said...

By the way, watch the new John Adams show on HBO. President Adams would never have been as successful as he was if Abigail didn't let him give her the occasional filthy Sanchez. It's a know fact. Read their letters. It's all in code words, but you know what they are talking about. Those politicians, what a hoot.

PatHMV said...

To respond to a few points...

Spitzer himself has not actually been charged with ANYTHING yet, neither financial crimes or prostitution. "Client 9" was not named as a defendant in the criminal complaint unveiled yesterday. I don't purport to know all of the underlying facts; Dick, I was responding to debunk your flat assertion that this case "is about financial misdeeds," much more than simply prostitution. Unless YOU have knowledge not released publicly thus far, you have no way of knowing that it involves anything more than what has been publicly disclosed thus far.

As for wire transfers and credit cards, I haven't yet seen anything suggesting that Spitzer ever used those methods to pay QAT for the prostitution services. To the contrary, he went to great lengths to avoid direct banking record connections to QAT, going so far as to send them actual cash by mail or an overnight service. Based on the paragraphs in the complaint about Client 9, it looked to me like his "suspicious" banking activities simply involved withdrawing unusually large amounts of cash at odd times in a relatively short time period.

And look, I'm all for throwing the book at Spitzer. He is a hypocrite and surely prosecuted any number of people for violations at least as technical as any of those he may have broken here.

But I still think that prosecuting someone just for "structuring" would be inappropriate in a circumstance like this. Spitzer hypocrisy doesn't change that; if the law is used against him, it could be used against us, too.

Revenant said...

But I still think that prosecuting someone just for "structuring" would be inappropriate in a circumstance like this.

But this is exactly the sort of thing that the law against "structuring" was meant to catch -- disguising money transfers so that they don't set off alarm bells, when the ultimate goal of the transfers is to make payments in exchange for criminal activity.

Did Spitzer transfer money directly to QAT? The prosecution's case isn't clear on that point. It doesn't matter, though. Do you think that, for example, people who transfer money around in order to buy a drug shipment make wire transfers directly to the drug smugglers? Of course not. They do the same thing -- large cash withdrawls followed by large cash payments. Of course, since withdrawing $100,000 from a bank and then having it seemingly vanish without being spent is highly suspicious, people looking to make a large drug buy transfer the money around in smaller lumps that don't attract as much attention. The "structuring" law was designed to prevent that.

Spitzer hypocrisy doesn't change that; if the law is used against him, it could be used against us, too.

It is. That's another reason why it is so important to nail the people in power when THEY get caught doing it.

PatCA said...

As far as trafficking, how did Spitzer know the whores were over 18, or that some whores under 18 would be affected by his support of this business?

For some good news, I just read that the CDC article that says our teenage girls are all whores is based on a sample of about 800 girls. I'm not much of a statistician but that seems to be such a small sample it's meaningless.

Middle Class Guy said...

Hey Trooper,
How about that Xrated Ben Franklin Movie.

paul a'barge said...

Big Sigh.

Can't we just legalize prostitution and move on with our lives?

From Inwood said...

Dust Bunny

Further on our exchange (& not a challenge) on why Mrs, S "stands by her man", see the following from the NYT Online 43 minutes ago:

"Several aides said that they expected Gov. Eliot Spitzer to resign on Wednesday, but close aides said his wife was urging him to stay on." [bf mine]





BTW Did Eliot know if the naughty ladies were in this country legally? Did they have NYS Driver's Licenses?

former law student said...

Big Sigh.

Can't we just legalize prostitution and move on with our lives?


Because it empowers women? Because you'd be proud to see your wife, mother, or daughter become a sex worker?

dick said...

Pat,

You need to separate what the DA said vs what the media said. The media played up the whole hookers scenario and made it seem as if he were being investigated for that. The DA said they were dealing with financial investigations only. That is what I based my statements on. Unless you can provide proof that it was about more than financial problems, then it seems to me that you are just blowing smoke.

PatHMV said...

Dick, what the reports actually say is that they BEGAN the investigation because they got reports from the bank of "suspicious activity" in Spitzer's financial transactions, so their FIRST suspicion was bribery or evasion of campaign finance laws, which is what they started the investigation for. Then, along the way, they discovered the prostitution thing.

There is NOTHING out there that says that they discovered any other financial misdeeds other than the initial suspicious activity, which turned out to be Spitzer obtaining cash for the escort service.

I'm not saying for a fact that there isn't more, just that nobody yet has said that there is anything more. You're the one saying that it's about more, so I'd ask you to provide some citation to support your claim.

Trumpit said...

Prostitution and drugs both need to be legalized and the government must be kept on a leash and out of peoples bedrooms. You are simply wrong former law student. You want to shove your backward morality on the rest of us. LAY OFF!!

Revenant said...

Because it empowers women? Because you'd be proud to see your wife, mother, or daughter become a sex worker?

The relevant question, FLS, is "if your daughter chose to become a prostitute, would you want her thrown in prison". For me the answer is an obvious an immediate "no". Maybe you feel differently.

Revenant said...

There is NOTHING out there that says that they discovered any other financial misdeeds other than the initial suspicious activity, which turned out to be Spitzer obtaining cash for the escort service.

31 U.S.C. 5324. The description of "structuring", which is a felony:

A person acting alone, in conjunction with others, or on behalf of others, conducts or attempts to conduct, one or more transactions in currency, in any amount, at one or more financial institutions, on one or more days, for the purpose of evading the reporting requirements of 31 C.F.R. 103.22 (requiring Currency Transaction Reports)

Investigators have suggested that Spitzer may have violated that law, so your claim that there is "nothing out there" suggesting financial misdeeds other than paying hookers would appear to be wrong.

It doesn't matter that he was spending the money on hookers. Dodging the reporting requirements is illegal even if you're spending all the money buying shoes for needy orphans.

Bissage said...

Mort’s 5:33 was a work of pure, inspired GENIUS of the highest order!

[ * Hits "publish your comment" button and returns to marathon chuckling session. * ]

Bissage said...

Heh, heh, heh, heh, heh, heh, heh, heh, heh, etc.

rightwingprof said...

"Does anyone else besides myself find the use of the Mann Act against a governor a mite disturbing"

Not to be grumpy, but I find it a mite disturbing that someone who, one assumes, has a bachelor's degree cannot use a reflexive pronoun correctly. Did his professors actually accept "besides myself" in his papers, and not indicate that he should have written, "besides me"?

former law student said...

Dodging the reporting requirements is illegal even if you're spending all the money buying shoes for needy orphans.

For this to be true, if there's no underlying crime, structuring would have to be a strict liability offense. If a federal law makes something a strict liability offense, unless it is purely regulatory with minimal consequences, the prosecutors must show that the offender at least knew his act was wrong.

I have read the statute covering structuring and I still don't understand it, so perhaps Spitzer could skate on this issue. But presumably Spitzer knew prostitution was illegal, so he could be presumed to know that acts he did to facilitate prostitution had a wrongful purpose.

former law student said...

Well sure. Nor would I want her thrown in prison if my daughter chose to become a crack dealer, confidence trickster, CIA waterboarder, or Enron CEO. But I'm not advocating that any of those activities should be legalized.

Revenant said...

the prosecutors must show that the offender at least knew his act was wrong.

He's a lawyer who prosecuted white-collar crimes. How hard could it be to show that he knew the law?

Revenant said...

Well sure. Nor would I want her thrown in prison if my daughter chose to become a crack dealer, confidence trickster, CIA waterboarder, or Enron CEO. But I'm not advocating that any of those activities should be legalized.

Well, neither waterboarding nor being a CEO are illegal, and I favor legalizing drugs.

But if my child was a con artist, I'd want him or her punished for it.