Legal Strategy versus Media Management: When a Governor Faces Federal Charges

It’s all over the media: reports of an FBI wiretap that has identified the Democratic governor of New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer as the alleged recent client of a prostitution ring, the Emperors Club VIP.

It seems like Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton all over again – but, this time, it is worse. Spitzer has preached “morality” from the pulpit and what he allegedly did is STILL considered illegal.

According to Newsday, Spitzer has “earned the designation ‘Client 9′ in [the] federal affidavit involving prostitution charges” for procuring services at the gentleman’s club. So what did “Client 9″ have to say to the media and the masses in his 64-second statement about his alleged not-so-gentleman-like indecencies?

“For the past nine years, eight years as attorney general, and one as governor, I have tried to uphold a vision of progressive politics that would rebuild New York and create opportunity for all. We sought to bring real change to New York and that will continue.

“Today I want to briefly address a private matter. I have acted in a way that violates my obligations to my family and violates my, or any, sense of right and wrong. I apologize first and most importantly to my family. I apologize to the public, whom I promised better.

“I do not believe that politics in the long run is about individuals. It is about ideas, the public good and doing what is best for the state of New York. But I have disappointed and failed to live up to the standard I expected of myself. I must now dedicate some time to regain the trust of my family.

“I will not be taking questions. Thank you very much. I will report back to you in short order. Thank you very much.”

Without saying more, doesn’t his statement just make things worse? How has he “acted”? What has he really done? What does he “expect of” himself? And does he really think he’s going to “regain the trust” of his three teenage daughters, and his wife, who gave up her law job?

Spitzer leaves everything open for speculation and ridicule. But, in one sense, this is a smart legal strategy because according to the New York Times, aides to the governor expect Spitzer to step down. The only question is when. Experts believe his resignation will be “negotiated with federal prosecutors in an agreement to resolve the criminal investigation of the governor.”

So, the age-old issue is upon us: Which takes priority, the legal strategy or the media management? As an attorney, I’d say he’s best to follow the judgment of his legal counsel, and leave the media damage control for another day.

Gina F. Rubel, Esq.
Furia Rubel Communications, Inc.
http://www.furiarubel.com/

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