And John Whitehead—I don’t know how the man survived. Spitzer was just so darned mean to him, as Time explains:
In December 2005, former Goldman Sachs chairman John Whitehead, who was then chairing the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., alleged that Spitzer tried to bully him after Whitehead wrote a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed criticizing the attorney general’s zealotry: “I will be coming after you,” Spitzer allegedly told Whitehead, who said he immediately took notes of the conversation. “You will pay dearly for what you have done.” (Spitzer’s communications director Darren Dopp, who later left the administration under an ethics cloud, denied Whitehead’s account.)
It is indeed terrible to raise one’s voice, especially to a former Wall Street executive, who would be unfamiliar with coarse language or bullying of any kind.
And these are examples of Spitzer’s worst behavior, remember.
Indeed, Spitzer’s fall brought to the surface many outrageous acts and heinous crimes, inflicted not just on business-news figures, but —much worse—on business-news reporters.
David Weidner of Marketwatch reveals:
Back in 2006, Spitzer’s gang tried to intimidate me. His spokesman accused me of mischaracterizing a comment that Spitzer made, comparing upstate New York to Appalachia. At that point, it became clear that the only thing that could stop the runaway Spitzer fanaticism would be the soon-to-be governor himself.
Is there no depth to which this prostitute-supporter and his gang—this gang of, um, spokespeople—would not sink?
Read the column here.
And an earlier column is here, in which Weidner recounts the conversation with Darren Dopp, Spitzer’s spokesman, whom by the way, Weidner calls “an attack dog.”
As one of the senior members of the attorney general’s PR staff, Dopp is known in the media as the man who dishes out information about investigations. It seemed unusual that an attorney general’s office spokesman would be calling about a gubernatorial campaign stop, but he was.
“That section of the speech is straight government policy,” he said. “And what we’re trying to do all across the state right now is focus on that particular problem.”
Dopp accused me of mischaracterizing Spitzer’s comment. What followed was a debate about what Spitzer meant and how it was received: Was the remark a joke? Wasn’t it? Did people laugh, or didn’t they? Would I listen to the tape? Was I even there?
The conversation made me ask myself, “Do I need a lawyer?”
Yes, and maybe a fainting couch. I mean, what is this?
Spitzer’s prostitution bust, for whatever reason, prompts Weidner to come perilously close to rewriting recent Wall Street history:
For someone like Sandy Weill, the former chief executive and chairman of Citigroup Inc. (C), the Spitzer investigations into his relationship with former star telecom analyst Jack Grubman illustrated a justice system out of whack. Weill never had his day in court. He had to fight Spitzer and his subpoena power in the papers.
Weill called the incessant leaks from Spitzer’s office “Chinese water torture” and characterized the whole investigation and public humiliation as “the darkest time of my career.”
Spitzer’s downfall doesn’t exonerate Weill, but it does force us to re-examine Spitzer’s list. Consider the other Wall Street casualties of Spitzer’s years in office, such as Henry Blodget, Frank Quattrone, Jeffrey Greenberg and Ken Langone.
Weill never had his day in court, of course, because Citigroup settled, as did Grubman, who had promoted a stock he privately predicted would “go to zero,” and published “fraudulent” research reports, among other things, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission, which joined the investigation.
If anyone needs reminding, here is the S.E.C.’s complaint against Citigroup and Grubman.
Grubman made $67.5 million between 1999 and 2002. I wonder how his clients did?
Blodget was the Merrill Lynch analyst who promoted stock he privately called “junk” and “crap,” and was permanently barred from the securities business by the S.E.C. He’s now a journalist.
Sure, there are a few scoundrels on the list. But what about the borderline guys, like the Greenbergs and Quattrone? The former was charged with bid-rigging, though his defenders say it was common industry practice. Obstruction charges against Quattrone were dropped.
Under Jeffrey Greenberg, Marsh & McLennan rigged bids and otherwise gouged commercial customers as part of its business model. The company neither confirmed nor denied it, then paid $850 million in fines and overhauled its operations. That Marsh committed extensive wrongdoing is not seriously in dispute. The fact that such practices were widespread is not exactly an indictment of Spitzer.
I discussed the father, Maurice Greenberg, whom Weidner mentions as having fending off civil charges, here.
As for Quattrone, that failed prosecution was brought by the federal government, not Spitzer, who next will be blamed for the Spanish Inquisition and the prosecution of Galileo.