LIKE ALL OF THESE GUYS, FOSELLA SEEMS TO HAVE HAD A SKELETON IN HIS CLOSET, AND THAT SKELETON WAS A DOOZY!
An odd thing seems to be going on in New York. Our politicians are getting busted left and right (wing, that is.)
It all began nearly two years ago when our State Comptroller, Alan Hevesi, a Democrat, was found to have been using his government driver to chauffer his handicapped wife around. Not a big deal, you would think. But that thought would only apply if there weren’t an over-zealous DA in Albany County where the state capital is located.
Albany County District Attorney, David Soares, a Democrat, never saw a politician he didn’t want to indict, or so it seems. Soares turned Hevesi’s indiscretion into a major political brouhaha during the Comptroller’s run for reelection. Even so, Hevesi won with nearly 90% of the vote.
But that didn’t stop Soares, and, in the end, Hevesi was forced to resign.
This led to a power struggle between newly elected Governor, Elliot Spitzer, and the State Assembly, which is invested with the power of replacing officials that resign. The Assembly wanted one of their own and ended up deciding on Tom DiNapoli who, as it turned out, has been doing a terrific job. The Governor wanted one of his cronies and, when he lost the battle, vowed to run challengers in primaries against every Assembly member that voted for DiNapoli.
Spitzer, you see, was the state’s Attorney General before becoming Governor. In that role, he developed a reputation as a no nonsense prosecutor with a killer instinct for catching the bad guys. The problem is that prosecutors don’t seem to make very good governors or mayors. Here in New York City we already knew that. Rudy Giuliani nearly turned our city into an armed camp during his tenure as Mayor. Spitzer was gaining the same kind of reputation as Governor, even among members of his own party.
Besides alienating Democrats, Spitzer managed to really piss off the most powerful Republican in the state, Senator Joe Bruno, the State Senate Majority Leader. Spitzer really wanted to have the Democrats take over the State Senate, which had been held by the Republicans for nearly three decades. He figured that he could assign a State Police detail to track Bruno’s travel habits and catch him the way Hevesi had been caught. He reasoned that Bruno had a reputation of combining state trips with political activity in order to save his party and his campaign money, something many politicians do. The rules are simple. If you go somewhere on state business, what you do in your free time once you arrive at your destination is your problem, not the state’s. The fact that you were traveling to and fro to perform the state’s work is sufficient under New York State law to justify the use of state owned vehicles, drivers and security details. Spitzer decided that it was his G-d given duty to trap Bruno doing the business of the Republican Party when he was allegedly on the state’s time clock. Bruno was too smart for that, and the whole plan blew up in the Governor’s face.
The incident came to be known as Troopergate, and it really back fired on the Governor. The state ground to a halt as Bruno short stopped every initiative backed by Spitzer. Spitzer then threatened to personally work in Bruno’s district to see that he was not reelected, a task that would be daunting, at best, and impossible, at worst. The Governor could have rewritten Norman Vincent Peale’s thesis and called it How Not To Win Friends or Influence People. He was, as it turned out, a prosecutor to the bone with no idea of how to run a government on any level.
One of the things Spitzer was most well known for doing during his tenure as Attorney General was the busting of prostitution rings. He was also known for bringing down members of the New York Stock Exchange who he believed had performed in less than ethical ways.
One day this March, when I was on a trip to Florida, my cell phone rang. It was my daughter-in-law back in New York. She asked if I was near a television. When I replied that I was, she said “Turn on CNN, now!” There, on the set, was Spitzer holding a press conference regarding the fact that he had been found to have had a long running interstate relationship with a prostitute who worked for an escort service, the same kind of service Spitzer had been earned his reputation fighting.
Now, I firmly believe that prostitution needs to be legalized. I feel that by doing so, we would turn sex workers into tax-paying citizens, protect their health and the health of their patrons and be able to allocate the time of the police to fighting more important crimes, like the use of state cars to chauffer around the Comptroller’s handicapped wife. Yet, currently, prostitution is against state law in New York, and transporting prostitutes across state lines for the purpose of doing their business is against federal law.
Elliot Spitzer, both as Attorney General and Governor, had sworn to uphold the laws of the State of New York and the United States of America. By patronizing prostitutes and transporting them across state lines while doing so, he had upheld neither. And that doesn’t begin to take into account the allegations of money laundering surrounding the payments to the escort service in question. Eventually, after much hand wringing, Spitzer resigned in disgrace.
During his tenure as AG, Spitzer busted numerous important and powerful people. one has to wonder whether it was someone from one of the targeted escort services he had closed or some broker who used the same escort service as the Governor looking to gain revenge. It might even have been Joe Bruno, himself, who blew the whistle. It doesn’t really matter. Spitzer managed to obtain so many enemies during his short stay in Albany, that it would be practically impossible to speculate who dropped the dime on him, but somebody obviously did.
And that takes me to the one Republican in this gruesome threesome, Representative Vito Fossella of Staten Island. Fossella is a highly moral Republican, out of the school of Senator Larry Craig, the guy who was busted for soliciting a male prostitute in a Minneapolis airport restroom. Fossella is anti-choice, pro-death penalty, pro-gun and anti-sex education. He is the very model of a modern neo con. He is also the only Republican representing New York City in Congress.
Like all of these guys, Fossella seems to have had a skeleton in his closet, and that skeleton was a doozy.
Representative Fossella, it seems, has a mistress and a three year, old out of wedlock, daughter in Virginia, aside from having a wife and three sons back home in New York’s outermost borough. What a guy!
We all learned of the good Congressman’s peccadilloes when he was busted for DUI on the way to visiting his daughter. To his credit, Fossella admitted to having fathered the little girl, but that admission does nothing to lessen the gravity of the situation, the moral hypocrisy and the driving under the influence of alcohol, neither of which fit the image of a guardian of our moral imperatives . To top things off, it was the girl friend, a retired Army colonel in the diplomatic corps, that bailed the Congressman out the next day. Boy, would I have loved to have been a fly on the wall of Vito’s house when he got back to Staten Island.
Representative Fossella, who narrowly won reelection two years ago, is running again this year. The Democratic primary for that position will be held in September, making it anyone’s guess as to who his opponent will be. What we do know is that his Republican colleagues are cajoling him to resign now, and, if he doesn’t resign, to step aside and allow them to nominate a fresh right wing face for the seat.
Fossella has refused on all counts, and I agree with him.
I think Vito Fossella should tough it out, run for reelection and then go down in a blaze of glory to the Democratic candidate. And, why not? What fun it will be to watch a guy who supported every family unfriendly initiative of the Bush Administration under the guise of family values be hoisted on his own petard by an electorate tired of stuffed shirt Republicans preaching to do as they say, not as they do. What a thrill it will be to watch Vito Fossella crash and burn.
What fun it will be!
So, run Vito run.
HENRY A. HONIG – THE PUNDIT