Tuesday, August 30, 2005

"Defanged Spitzer Spares Fund Crooks Jail Time "

I highly recommend this article with its fantastic headline.
"Wall Street crime buster Eliot Spitzer appears to have lost some of his fighting spirit.

On Tuesday, the New York Attorney General netted two more guilty pleas in the mutual fund trading scandal, bringing the number of individuals convicted by Spitzer's office in the two-year-old investigation to nine.

But the big news is that the plea deals negotiated by Spitzer's office with Grant Seeger and William Kenyon do not require either defendant to serve jail time. Instead, Spitzer has agreed that the former top executives of Security Trust, a defunct trust bank that processed abusive trades for two big hedge funds, can be sentenced in October to five years probation. Both men also will each pay a $50,000 fine."

Wikipedia Censorship?

A month or so after creating Spitzer Watch I noticed that someone had taken the time to add me to the wikipedia entry for Eliot Spitzer. While I wasn't responsible for this addition, I do feel it was a nice source for readers of the otherwise almost exclusively pro-Spitzer wikipedia entry.

After checking my referrals recently I discovered that the link to Spitzer Watch had been deleted by wiki user: Daniel Tasripin. Mr. Tasripin, in the spirit of Wikipedia, posted his reasons and then waited one week before deleting the link. His 4 (often X-files-ish conspiratorial) reasons given for the edits are discussed later in this post.

(At this point I should apologize for what will be a long, sort of off topic post...)

As for Tasripin, he describes himself as a "unrepentant leftist" (that's in itself certainly is no reason for assuming ulterior motives to his edits) and he also has edited out criticisms of Spitzer in the past. Slightly more suspicious is the fact that a quick google search reveals that Tasripin, a student at Hunter College may be understating his partisan credentials.

It seems that this self-appointed editor of Spitzer critics was arrested and charged with assaulting a police officer at a 2003 anti-war demonstration. (I have no idea if he is guilty but I would propose that one is at least a little extreme to put himself in a situation to be charged with assualting a police officer and that isn't some minor "nuissance charge" like disturbing the peace.)

Let me first give the 4 "reasons" he lists for deleting the link and then repond to them in italics one at a time:
  1. Spitzer Watch is anonymous. Or in the words of Taspripin "The owner of the Spitzer Watch blog does not make any disclosure of his name (only goes by the nom de plume "Patrick"), his credentials/background, his motives, or backers."

    A quick look at this charge shows the deep rooted suspicion behind his decision to delete Spitzer Watch from the links. First my pen name, "Patrick" is derived from from my first name: also "Patrick."

    Second, if one really wanted to know my background/credentials (even my full name) a quick technorati search would reveal my old blog Colby and Beyond! where there are plenty of personal details, if one was so inclined to read through it all. But here's a short summary: Government Major Grad, Colby College and now I work in a PR office for a charity in DC. (Of course I always will be a New Yorker.)

    I have no "backers". (The site costs nothing to run but some free time a few times a week. That being said I can, and will, accept donations here.) As for motives, while I clearly am a critic of Spitzer, that in itself doesn't make what I write anyless true. (Sort of like how Taspirin admitting to being "leftist" does not make his edits text in the spitzer post false.) And I as a blogger know that even a blog like this that isn't widely read can be fisked at anytime to expose someone who doesn't base accusations in fact. Finally as others who have email can attest to, I do check my email and if Tasripin was really concerned about my background, backers, name or motives he could have tried that first.

  2. "Despite the anonymity of Spitzer Watch's owner/author, it's pretty clearly an amateurish blog. The news-to-rant ratio is pretty low. In my opinion, we could probably do a lot better at linking the source materials Spitzer Watch draws from, and not Spitzer Watch itself."

    This critique is amusing considering that it comes from someone who puts considerable time and effort in to editing, what could only be called the ultimate amature project. Certainly, wikipedia should not be discredited just because it was/is created by amateurs, so why should this blog? This is just an ad-hominem attack. Additionally, because Spitzer Watch is constantly being updated with factually based critiques of Spitzer this should be the perfect link for the "Critics" section of the Spitzer wikipedia entry.

    As for the "news-to-rant ratio" Maybe my recollection of what a "rant" is is off, but I would suggest that my favorite way of criticizing Spitzer - simply holding him up to the standards that he sets for others - is not at all ranting because it is based in fact. Additionally, I often feel I should spend more time, not less, doing analysis of news, rather than just providing links to it.

  3. "I've kept Spitzer Watch to one link, in an area on critics. Over the past several weeks, various anonymous IPs have come in to put in extra links (usually when there's an update on the blog). It should raise at least some suspicion that someone's putting links on here simply drive up hits to the site (which doesn't have many, according to its own site stats)."

    Ahh yes, more scary anonymous editors! Again I will repeat that I don't know who added my site to the entry, but it seems likely that the same person who added it in the first place. I do agree that there should not be more than one link to Spitzer Watch on the wiki entry.

    More importantly is the "I've kept..." aspect of this complaint. Wikipedia is a cooperative effort and no one entry should be edited by only one person. At least when Spizer Watch was completely deleted an effort was made to consult with the wiki-community. Tasripin seems to be implying some kind of ownership over the page by this comment: Very un-Wiki!

  4. "Related to points 2 and 3, an anonymous IP decided to put up a link to The Spitzer Report. Comparing the two websites, there's not much material on Spitzer Report that isn't already on Spitzer Watch; the authors of both is Patrick. Having the same reports, with the same author/editor, on two different blogs raises the question of whether Patrick is trying to "corroborate" questionable reports simply by simply repeating them."

    More of the x-files stuff here: In response to the anonymous aspect just see point 3.

    As for the idea that having two separate sources will somehow fool people into thinking that that these are independently corroborated, that might be plausible if it wasn't so clear that the sites were linked. Notice this sentence in the post announcing the launch of Spitzer Report:
    The same great Spitzer Watch content with a Drudge Report spin.
    Spitzer Report is just another way of accessing Spitzer Watch content and that should be clear to anyone interested in facts. Also reinforcing that fact is that it says "visit our other site: SPITZER REPORT" on each page of Spitzer Watch.

Finally, I would like to say that I find the other "critic" links are lacking. Clearly Tasripin and the only other user to recently comment on the spitzer wiki entry - Aquillion - are not themselves critics of Spitzer and therfore might have difficulty knowing what would constitue a well done critique. Spitzer Watch is meant as a source to provide (anyone who wants it) a place to find many different ways to critique Spitzer, whether it be through original analysis I provide, or by simply sharing links I find.

I find the Alan Reynolds article and the Bloomberg article both to be very well done, but they are quite limited in scope and length. Also, the AG Watch blog by AEI that "replaced" Spitzer Watch is updated so seldomly (and even less so about Spitzer) that it gives those wanting a real critical view of Spitzer very little.

Meanwhile, Spitzer's approval rating has never gone much higher than 60%, so where on the wiki entry are the views of these other 40% of New Yorkers?

If I had more time I would do some exensive edits to expand upon the Criticisms of Spitzer as Attorney General section myself. But since I don't, until that section of the entry is greatly improved and expanded upon, I will just replace the link to Spitzer Watch that was deleted.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Take a Spitzer Report poll

The SPITZER REPORT is running a poll. Go vote and then check out the results.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Eliots Endorsement Payola

Spitzer has gotten much press for his investigations and lawsuits criticizing conflicts of interest within the banking and financial industry.

But one obvious conflict of interest has not gotten any attention from the hyper-litigating AG is that of the labor owned bank Amalgamated Bank. Amalgamated is owned by the labor union Unite-Here.

According to the NY Sun the "New York-based bank that regularly loans money to unions is also owned by a hotel and laundry workers union."

Given the standard used in other Spitzer investigations (witchhunts?) Unite-Here should already have settled after a relentless Spitzer publicity campaign.

Instead Amalagated owner, Unite-Here, issued a statement ENDORSING SPITZER:
UNITE HERE announces its endorsement of Attorney General Eliot Spitzer in the 2006 New York State Governor’s race today. The union represents more than 100,000 apparel, textile, hospitality and other workers and retirees throughout the state of New York. The candidate will join UNITE HERE members and leaders at rallies in Rochester and New York City to accept the endorsement of UNITE HERE and its affiliates in the state.
Like Carl McCall, who got a pass for his roll in Grasso's $187 million NYSE bonus because Spitzer needed McCall's help in his run for the governorship, UNITE-HERE hasn't felt the heat from Spitzer either after a timely endorsement.

BREAKING: **Weld to Run Against Spitzer**

Friday's NY Times reports Weld has decided to run:
William F. Weld, the colorful former Republican governor of Massachusetts, said yesterday that he planned to run for the same job in New York next year, hoping his platform of tax cuts and social liberalism will make him the first two-state leader since Sam Houston.

Mr. Weld, a native New Yorker who is now an investment adviser in Manhattan, said he had been encouraged to run by former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, an old friend, among others. Karl Rove, the White House political adviser, who worked for Mr. Weld in the 1990's, had also told him to consider running against Eliot Spitzer, the likely Democratic nominee, and the two men agreed that Mr. Spitzer was beatable, according to New York Republicans told about the exchange.

Yet Mr. Weld, who is barely known in New York outside of fund-raising, society and political circles, said his desire to run came strictly from "personal motivation" and a belief that New Yorkers had come to like moderate, tax-cutting Republican leaders.

"My juices are really flowing for this race, and I want to return to public service," Mr. Weld said in a telephone interview from Kentucky, where he was on business with his firm, Leeds Weld & Company.

With Gov. George E. Pataki stepping down next year and the Republican nomination wide open, Mr. Weld's affable and unpredictable brand of politics - he once dived fully clothed into the Charles River to show that it was clean - could prove an intriguing match for Mr. Spitzer, the popular state attorney general.
Of course SPITZER REPORT has had this since Wednesday Night.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Spitzer's Bad Company: Ferrer

After the NYC mayoral debate Spitzer spent some time with Freddy Ferrer who he sort of endorsed in the spring.

Ferrer of course made the unfortunate comments about the Amadou Diallo when he told a group of police officers that the shooting of Mr. Diallo wasn't a crime.

Spitzer distanced himself back then but now the man chiefly responsible for enforcing laws in NY State is campaigning with a man who can't decide if the Diallo shooting was wrong or not.

Grasso Stands Firm

The likelyhood of a settlement between Dick Grasso and Eliot Spitzer regarding Grasso's $ 187 million compensation became even less likely when Grasso commented on the case:
Current NYSE chief exec John Thain is willing to settle if the former chairman gives back $25 million, Newsweek reported on its Web site Tuesday.

State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer brought the suit against Grasso last year on behalf of the Big Board and would ultimately make that decision, not the NYSE.

"I have no interest in any settlement where I would give any money back to the exchange," said Grasso in response to the Newsweek article. "A nickel is an admission on my part that I did something wrong. I will never do that."
With the suit now likely to go to trial Carl McCall is now likely to testify about his role in the compensation package.


Spitzer Watch is proud to announce the Launch of:

The same great Spitzer Watch content with a Drudge Report spin.

Bookmark www.SpitzerReport.Blogspot.com Today!

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Can the GOP really challenge Spitzer?

Today's editorial in Newsday questions the NY Republican parties readiness to compete with the Democrats in statewide elections:
[T]he absence of a compelling Republican willing to run for governor when Pataki steps down is also discouraging to those who don't want the state to slip into one-party control.

With big-name Republicans Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg unwilling to seek state office, it's up to lesser lights to fill the void. This page hopes Sen. Michael Balboni (R-East Williston) runs for attorney general (the Democratic incumbent is running for governor). Lt. Gov. Mary Donohue, another GOP moderate, should consider stepping up.

If and when they do, Republican leaders should be interested in more than just dimming Democrat Clinton's star for a future national race. They must generously help the party's next generation that, frankly, to Pataki's particular discredit, has not been well groomed to rise.
I agree. It seems that New York Republicans fit into one of two categories:

Presidential Hopefuls or No-Names

Think about it. Where are the "in between NY Republicans" who want to lead New York and actually have a chance at winning state-wide election.
  • Maybe Jeannie Pirro can be that person but taking on Hillary is more likely to set her up for the future.
  • Rudy has had his eye the White House since he became "America's Mayor" and of the bunch he is the only one who might make a formidable presidential contendor one day.
  • Pataki is under the delusion that his run for the White House in 2008 has a chance of going anywhere. How he thinks he can win a Republican Primary is beyond me: if Republicans want a "moderate" nominee they will go for John McCain.
  • And I can't see Bloomberg leaving NYC. He's barely a Republican (I would venture to say that he isn't anywhere but in New York) and unless the capital of New York moves from Albany to Manhattan or the Hamptons I just don't see him spending that much time in Albany.
That leaves a bunch of no names who have little chance to win a State wide election anytime soon. Meaning that the odds of a strong challenger to Spitzer in 06 are slim and none.

A shame too since there is so much to criticize him for!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Pirro to the Senate

With Jeanine Pirro announcing that she will be challenging Hillary for the NY Senate seat one of Spitzer's toughest potential challengers is now out of the picture.

It is too bad too since she was the (with the exception maybe of Giuliani) the one who could best go toe to toe with Spitzer on legal issues. Pirro had experience as a District Attorney and, from what I've read about her, could have made a strong case that unlike Spitzer she didn't politicize law enforcement.

So anyway, with Pirro out its looking like Golisano is most likely to get the nomination. That is unless Rudy comes riding to the rescue.

Slap Happy Spitzer

Spitzer announced a settlement in an investigation of a "slapping contest"held on NYC radio station "Hot 97":
Spitzer and the state Athletic Commission stated that the hip-hop and rhythm and blues station held 24 "Smackfest" contests from April 2004 to January 2005. Young women took turns "violently slapping" each other for concert tickets and as much as $5,000 in cash, Spitzer said. Images of the slapping then ran on the station's Web site.

"This agreement should be a wake up call to all those in the entertainment industry who think outrageousness is a clever marketing strategy," Spitzer said. "The law establishes set boundaries that cannot be crossed to protect our community's health and safety."
So Spitzer doesn't have time investigate Democratic NY City Council Speaker Gifford Miller's illegal wasting of taxpayer money or to ensure that judges are legally sworn in to office but he does have time to settle a quarter of a million suit with a radio station for holding contests where consenting adults slapped each other for concert tickets!

It would make a great satire if it weren't true. What's next? A press conference when Eliot collects a speeding fine?

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Should AIG shareholders sue Spitzer?

The lead editorial in today's Wall $treet Journal makes the point that compared to any alleged mismanagement by former AIG exec Hank Greenberg, Eliot Spitzer has done far more damage to AIG shareholder value.

This begs the question: Why don't AIG shareholders sue Eliot Spitzer?

Spitzer has in public said Mr. Greenberg committed "fraud" that was "illegal" and caused AIG's share price to plummet!

The damage to shareholder value caused by Spitzer's investigation (and PR campaign) was predictable. More importantly, if what the Journal's portrayal* of the "white paper" released by Greenberg's lawyers (lead by David Boies) is accurate, then Spitzer was reckless in making accusations against the former AIG executive.

Furthermore the Journal writes "it (the "white paper") makes a compelling case that AIG's new management took financial decisions detrimental to shareholders - and for no other purpose then to shift blame to past management and kowtow to Mr. Spitzer."

If the facts are correct* then it seems Spitzer knowingly damaged the AIG share price with false information in a reckless manner.

If true, Spitzer's culpability here is far clearer then many the cases the AG has tried in the media and eventually settled. So Mr. Boise, if you read this the answer is simple: COUNTER-SUE! (And given the thousands of AIG shareholders, it should be no problem getting the lawsuit classified as class action.)

*Of course I would like to see for myself and have personally put in a request into Mr. Greenberg's attorneys.

Polls Update

With Pataki's departure the Republican nomination is now wide open. Newsday released polling data on possible Republicans challengers and even some with no possibility of running:
The Quinnipiac poll had Spitzer leading Bloomberg, 51 percent to 34 percent; ahead of Pirro, 59 percent to 21 percent; and leading Weld, 60 percent to 16 percent.

There has also been some talk of billionaire Rochester businessman B. Thomas Golisano, the three-time losing candidate for governor of the Independence Party, running in 2006 as a Republican. The poll had Spitzer leading Golisano, 58 percent to 22 percent.
The article does note that Giuliani, were he to run, would beat Spitzer 49 percent to 42.

P.S. Again the break in blogging is because I have moved down to DC and started my job. I'm currently staying with friends and haven't moved into my own place yet so posts will continue to be sporadic.