He routinely used the extraordinary threat of indicting entire firms, a financial death sentence, to force the dismissal of executives, such as AIG's Maurice "Hank" Greenberg. He routinely leaked to the press emails obtained with subpoena power to build public animosity against companies and executives. In the case of Mr. Greenberg, he went on national television to accuse the AIG founder of "illegal" behavior. Within the confines of the law itself, though, he never indicted Mr. Greenberg. Nor did he apologize.
In perhaps the incident most suggestive of Mr. Spitzer's lack of self-restraint, the then-Attorney General personally threatened John Whitehead after the former Goldman Sachs chief published an article on this page defending Mr. Greenberg. "I will be coming after you," Mr. Spitzer said, according to Mr. Whitehead's account. "You will pay the price. This is only the beginning, and you will pay dearly for what you have done."
Jack Welch, the former head of GE, said he was told to tell Ken Langone -- embroiled in Mr. Spitzer's investigation of former NYSE chairman Dick Grasso -- that the AG would "put a spike through Langone's heart." New York Congresswoman Sue Kelly, who clashed with Mr. Spitzer in 2003, had her office put out a statement that "the attorney general acted like a thug."
These are not merely acts of routine political rough-and-tumble. They were threats -- some rhetorical, some acted upon -- by one man with virtually unchecked legal powers.
But, as you might expect, the WSJ limits its attention to Spitzer's attacks on the business community. His attacks on crisis pregnancy centers were equally outrageous abuses of power. According to Maggie Gallagher's 2002 account of his escapades:
New York's attorney general has subpoenaed every crisis pregnancy center in the state, regardless of whether that clinic has been the target of any specific complaints.
Gallagher also reported that Spitzer had promised at a NARAL luncheon:
But at a NARAL luncheon on Jan. 22, 1999, Elliot Spitzer made a political promise to crack down on so-called "false advertisements" in pregnancy services....Spitzer intoned his goal was "a suitable framework for public debate in New York. I want to be clear that I am not attempting to curtail anyone's right to free speech, but I do intend to stop those who would use violence and intimidation to achieve their political goals."
And Michelle Malkin reported around the same time:
This is a politically motivated witch hunt in an election year for Elliot Spitzer," Slattery said. According to online campaign finance data, Spitzer has received $2,900 from New York's NARAL political action committee over the past three years.
Elliot Spitzer's rode the two favorite Leftist hobby-horses, the anti-business hobby horse and the pro-abortion hobby horse, to public prominence and electoral victory. He evidently thought he could abuse his authority against those two groups, without fear of reprecussions. There are a lot of people enjoying his comeuppance.