As Spitzer Steps Down, GOP Steps Up Attacks on His Campaign Donations

Eliot L. Spitzer announces that he will resign as governor of New York after being ensnared in a prostitution scandal.
Eliot L. Spitzer announces that he will resign as governor of New York after being ensnared in a prostitution scandal. (By Andrew Harrer -- Bloomberg News)
By Mary Ann Akers And Paul Kane
Thursday, March 13, 2008

Even though New York Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer (D) resigned in disgrace yesterday, House Republicans still have him to kick around.

The National Republican Congressional Committee is not backing off its efforts to bash New York Democratic lawmakers and candidates for the thousands of dollars in campaign contributions that they have received from Spitzer.

"New York Democrats should resign themselves to giving up the disgraced Governor's sleazy cash before it's too late and they find themselves being escorted out of office by the voters in November," said NRCC spokesman Ken Spain.

Even after Spitzer resigned, the NRCC sent out a news release bashing three-term Rep. Timothy H. Bishop (D-N.Y.) for taking a $2,000 campaign donation from Spitzer.

"Will Tim Bishop Return Spitzer's Sleazy Money?" the headline blared. Noting that Bishop ran on an ethics reform platform, the GOP release asked, "Will Democrat Tim Bishop live up to his promise of holding elected officials to a higher standard or will he run and hide from his campaign promises once again?"

Bishop quickly gave the money to charity, and in a statement said he was livid at Republicans for making Spitzer's donations a campaign issue.

"That the NRCC is attempting to link this shocking and disturbing situation to individuals who clearly had nothing to do with it points to their utter desperation," Bishop said. "If such smear campaigns are all they have to offer, then they are destined to remain in the minority for a long time."

Earlier this week, the NRCC attacked three freshman New York House Democrats -- Reps. Michael Arcuri, Kirsten Gillibrand and John Hall-- and two New York Democratic House candidates, Dan Maffei and Eric Massa, for taking money from Spitzer.

Massa returned the cash but only after the NRCC circulated three freeze-frame photos of Massa and Spitzer together, taken from one of Massa's own campaign ads, which featured the words "trust," "integrity" and "respect."

Massa is running for a second consecutive time against Rep. John R. " Randy" Kuhl Jr. (R-N.Y.), who is no stranger to controversy himself. Kuhl's sealed divorce records were leaked weeks before the 2004 election, when Kuhl was elected for the first time. Kuhl's now-ex-wife alleged that Kuhl pulled not one but two shotguns on his wife at a dinner party and threatened to shoot her, according to media reports at the time.

Spitzer's Last Stand

Speaking of Spitzer on Capitol Hill, this great line from the soon-to-be-ex-governor might have brought down the House if only the lawmakers knew what had happened the night before Spitzer's Valentine's Day testimony.

"Now, let me explain why I'm here testifying on this issue . . .," Spitzer said well into his testimony on the subprime mortgage crisis.

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