In this old blog post, I jokingly suggested that Eliot Spitzer be threatened with indictment in order to force him to resign due to his serial abuses of power. Well, this is ultimately what it took. And despite the irony that this is the same tactic Spitzer used on others (and as much as I think Spitzer got what he deserved), Spitzer’s demise is just another example of prosecutorial abuse. Several libertartians have made this observation on the LRC site. Interestingly, their views are echoed on the Left by Alan Dershowitz in the March 13 Wall Street Journal (The Entrapment of Eliot):
Even if Mr. Spitzer’s derelictions were serendipitously discovered as a result of routine, computerized examination of bank transactions, the dangers inherent in selective use of overbroad criminal statutes remain. Money laundering, structuring and related financial crimes are designed to ferret out organized crime, drug dealing, terrorism and large-scale financial manipulation. They were not enacted to give the federal government the power to inquire into the sexual or financial activities of men who move money in order to hide payments to prostitutes.
Once federal authorities concluded that the “suspicious financial transactions” attributed to Mr. Spitzer did not fit into any of the paradigms for which the statutes were enacted, they should have closed the investigation. It’s simply none of the federal government’s business that a man may have been moving his own money around in order to keep his wife in the dark about his private sexual peccadilloes.”
If they wanted to, the Feds could have busted this prostitution ring quickly and easily with little fanfare. Instead, they wiretapped 5000 phone calls and read 6000 private emails to find salacious details about Spitzer that they could leak to the press. Sickening.