The Stone City

Words Made to Last

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Copycat Extortion

Inevitably, Eliot Spitzer's success in using negative publicity and the threat of more negative publicity -- without any prosecutions of note -- to extort money from the corporations that support his state, and the fame he has garnered in the process, have enabled him to attempt to move on to bigger and better things.

With equal inevitability, a crowd of wannabee extortionists from other states are looking to his example:
Mr. Spitzer has redefined the powers of the office so fundamentally, that during the last election cycle three attorney general candidates around the country asked to meet with him when forming their visions of what they could bring to the office.
Still more pavement artists are vying to succeed him. Like drawing from a menu, you can vote for whom you want to see shaken down next:
Charlie King, who runs a nonprofit agency for the homeless, says he would use the Spitzer model of reforming institutions in a profound way and apply it to education. “I would take the model from Wall Street to Sesame Street,” he says.
If the schools aren't your target of choice, you could try construction (Richard Brodsky), retailers (Mark Green), or another run at finance (Michael Gianaris). With so many juicy targets, how are New Yorkers to choose?