Eliot Spitzer, the former New York attorney general and governor brought down five years ago after patronizing high-priced prostitutes, intends to run for New York City comptroller, he said yesterday.
Spitzer, 54, gained national prominence as New York attorney general for bringing cases against Wall Street securities firms and uncovering the failings of others before resigning in humiliation two years and three months into his four-year gubernatorial term in March 2008.
“I strayed, I erred, I violated a code of behavior that I should not have and the public understands what I’m saying,” Spitzer said in a telephone interview. “I have learned that the peaks of public life are great fun, but the valleys are much more instructive. They force you to look into your soul.”
Spitzer joins former U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner in seeking redemption after a sexual imbroglio by running for office in the nation’s most populous city. Weiner, 48, who resigned from Congress in 2011 after sending lewd photographs of himself to women via Twitter, is seeking the Democratic mayoral nomination.
New York City’s comptroller functions as its financial officer with a staff of more than 700 accountants, lawyers, economists and analysts empowered to audit government agencies and monitor the budget. The official also oversees the $140 billion in assets held by the city’s five pension funds.
Spitzer, who since his downfall has taught a public-policy course at the City University of New York and appeared as a television commentator on CNN, said he wanted to do for the comptroller’s position what he did for the state attorney general’s office: “Reimagine it, revitalize it, and use its audit power to make sure New Yorkers are getting their money’s worth from government.”
The man who came to be known as the sheriff of Wall Street said he would use city pension funds’ shareholder power to act as a watchdog on corporations’ governance and social impact.
He faces a July 11 deadline to collect 3,750 signatures from Democratic voters to qualify for the Sept. 10 primary ballot. He’ll be aided in that effort by past aides and supporters, and said that if necessary he’ll hire professionals get the petitions signed.
Spitzer faces competition from Scott Stringer, 53, the Manhattan borough president who also served in the state assembly. Stringer has been campaigning and raising money since November. Spitzer intends to self-finance his campaign and spend “enough money to compete,” he said.
Spitzer’s entry into the race wasn’t greeted with enthusiasm by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, 46, a Manhattan Democrat who’s running for her party’s mayoral nomination. She said in an e-mail that she continues to support Stringer, describing him as having been “an exceptional borough president with the highest ethical standards.”