Democratic Convention: Eliot Spitzer
Eliot L Spitzer
New York State Attorney General
Wednesday, July 28, 2004; 4:00 PM
The 2004 Democratic National Convention is in full swing, with party leaders formally adopting a platform Tuesday night.
Democratic New York State Attorney General Eliot L Spitzer, who is considering a run for governor in 2006, discussed the 2004 Democratic convention, his current work and his future plans.
The transcript follows.
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Eliot L Spitzer: Three days into the Democratic National Convention the Democratic Party has defined an agenda and a platform that speaks to the unmet needs of the public, the failure of the Bush administration to fairly present to the public and the real impact of the Bush administrations policies. The unanimity on the Democratic Party for change reflects both support for the Kerry-Edwards ticket and the failures of the Republican administration thus far.
We are seeing a pragmatic, unified and realistic Democratic Party over our TV screens. New faces stand on the podium on their own merit as opposed to where they come from (and to a lesser extent who they are affiliated with). The press has started using the words: "a new Democratic party." Do you agree with this view and either way, can you comment? For example: Does this mean a more realistic view about business and it's need to stay competitive without the imposition of cost penalties? The need for the U.S. workforce to become more competitive in a global economy? Thank you.
Eliot L Spitzer: There is absolutely a pragmatism running through the ideology of the Democratic Party that is reflected both in our foreign and domestic policy. We understand the absolute necessity of strength and security and domestically the necessity of a competitive marketplace. Within that framework we are also insuring that the law is enforced and the rules of integrity are abided by.
San Diego, Calif.:
You have been considered as many to be the next U.S. Attorney General under a Democratic Administration. I believe that John Ashcroft has been one of the least effective, and most dangerous AGs this country has ever seen. I am curious as to what you believe is Ashcroft's single greatest fault as the AG in the last three and a half years. What is the one issue that you believe he failed at the most?
Thank you and good luck in your political career. (How about an Edwards/Spitzer ticket in 2012?)
Eliot L Spitzer: While I am flattered at your positive comments I refuse to speculate at all about any jobs that I might have while I am obligated to work aggressively to fulfill my current job of Attorney General of New York state.
With respect to Mr. Ashcroft, I have certainly had significant differences with certain decisions, but I think it is unwise for me to be harshly critical of individual decisions at the very moment that John Kerry has asked us all to be articulating our affirmative, not our negative message.
You have been in the forefront of protecting consumers against fraudulent actions by securities and stocks brokers. Is this something that should be a national issue, or is this primarily an issue that should be left to state regulators? Do state regulators have the capability to tackle this industry? Is this an issue Kerry should address?
Eliot L Spitzer: The issue of integrity in the capital markets absolutely should be addressed primarily by the federal regulatory entity charged with that obligation - mainly the SEC and it is primarily because of the SEC's failure to be aggressive in this domain that I felt obligated to intervene. I fully expect that Sen. Kerry will make integrity in the marketplace a piece of his campaign.
Mount Vernon, N.Y.:
Don't you think Rudy Guiliani and Governor Pataki will rally the country to Bush at the GOP Convention in New York City?
Here are two moderate GOP heroes of 9-11 who can appeal to other moderates and make the case that if you really care about fighting terror, the GOP is your best hope.
Eliot L Spitzer: They may try to do so, but the failed policies of the Bush administration will be difficult to obscure even with flowery and creative rhetoric.
Most commentators have been saying recently
that the Grasso case is shaky and becoming more
problematic for you, and that as a result you may
suffer political repercussions. How do you
Eliot L Spitzer: First, you are incorrect I think about the commentary. Most observers have reflected that our case is very powerful, as indeed it is. Whatever political impact there may be from our pursing the case is entirely irrelevant to how we will pursue a case we are obligated to prosecute.
College Park, Md.:
Do you consider yourself a rising star in the Democratic Party, and will you run for Governor of New York in 2006?
Eliot L Spitzer: I steadfastly refuse to put labels on myself and, although I am flattered that others have described me that way, I take it all with a significant grain of salt, recognizing that perceived political fortunes rise and fall very quickly.
New York, N.Y.:
Given your success in punishing corporate malfeasance, I would have thought you would have been given a more prominent role at the convention. Any thoughts on how Democrats can use the issue to their advantage with independent voters? Also, I really appreciate the hard work on behalf of New Yorkers everywhere (and the other Americans who have benefited from our feisty Attorney General)
Eliot L Spitzer: Thank you for your kind comments. It is of course entirely up to the Kerry campaign how to structure the convention and the spectacular array of speakers thus far speaks to their wisdom in doing so.
Washington, D.C. :
Now that you have excluded him from your
lawsuit involving the New York Stock Exchange,
do you expect that New York State Democrat, Carl
McCall, will endorse you in the Democratic
Eliot L Spitzer: I have no such expectation and would note that the board members of the NYSC whom we charged were charged based upon neutral principles that reflect the non for profit law in the state of New York
Santa Monica, Calif.:
Under New York law, would the governor have the right to unilaterally appoint your successor in the event that you were to accept a position in a Kerry administration?
If so, how strongly would that influence any decision you might make?
Eliot L Spitzer: Although I have not looked at this issue and thus my answer is somewhat hesitant, I believe it would be up to the state legislature to pick the successor of an Attorney General who for whatever reason did not serve his or her complete term.
Why have the Democrats written off the investor class? The Democrats have the real claim to being the true friends of the investor class, and not the Republicans. Honest markets benefit investors far more than tax breaks for investment income. What good has W's tax break for dividends and capital gains done for shareholders in Enron? WorldCom? Adelphia? Putnam? Strong? The Democrats need to hammer home this point. The Republicans have fought corporate governance reform from the start, and this is the single most pressing issue for the investor class.
I know this is not directly related to the convention, but I want to send you this rant:
I'm a tax attorney and a CPA who thinks you've done the nation a great service by going after Wall Street and RICs (Regulated Investment Companies, the technically correct term for mutual funds). I think some (Sandy Weill in particular) got off far too lightly, but at least you tried. Keep up the good work!
PS: Can you help my kid get into the 92nd St Y daycare program?
Eliot L Spitzer: Thank you for your comments. You are absolutely correct that the Democratic Party should try and appeal to this so-called investor class. In this regard, I fully expect we will do so.
I haven't watched every minute of every speech, but why hasn't there been more about Wall Street corruption and it effect on the small investor including employee-investors (401k's)?
Eliot L Spitzer: Your point is well taken. I think we should focus on that issue much more than we have.
New York, N.Y.:
What do you say to the voters in New York who complain
that they are financing your collection efforts on behalf of
the NYSE in the Grasso case, especially since they won't
see any money, even if you do win?
Eliot L Spitzer: We are enforcing a law that protects the integrity of all not-for profits, the assets of all not-for profits and the public interest here is not defined by where the improper gain ends up -- though returning it to the not-for profit is the mandated result. Rather the public good is defined by protecting the integrity of the not-for profits.
Eliot L Spitzer: Thanks to all who participated and who are watching the Democratic convention. I hope you find this interchange interesting and the remaining speeches at the convention as persuasive as those we have already seen.
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