We’re surprised the right-wing blogosphere hasn’t yet accused the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) of being behind the revelations of gubernatorial hanky-panky-for-pay in New York state. Among the now-shamed Elliot Spitzer‘s many enemies is Richard Grasso, the former NY Stock Exchange CEO brought down in 2003 by then-Attorney General Spitzer over “compensation issues.” (In a March 13 Newsweek commentary, wittily entitled “Spitzenfreude,” Daniel Gross invokes his name while noting the unseemly “joy at the governor’s suffering” among The Street’s bottom-feeders.) In June 1999, Grasso flew into the jungles of Colombia to meet with the FARC guerillas at their then-autonomous zone in Caquetá department, in an unlikely bid to convert them to capitalism. (Reuters, June 26, 1999) Actually, given the FARC’s control over a sizable chunk of Colombia’s cocaine trade, maybe the meeting wasn’t all that unlikely. In any case, the visit served the rebels well in their bid for international legitimacy. There is a picture of Grasso hugging the late FARC commander Raul Reyes on his Wikipedia page.
But we actually think, if there was any conspiracy behind Spitzer getting busted, it is more likely to have emerged from the Republican machine—which was on the cusp of an historic reversal just when the Mayflower Hotel revelations upset the apple-cart. John DeSio writes for the Village Voice March 10:
How the Spitzer Sex Scandal Could Help Joe Bruno
The resignation of Governor Eliot Spitzer could be the best thing that ever happened to Joe Bruno.
Bruno, the Republican State Senate majority leader, is hanging on to his lead over the Democrats in that body by just one vote, having just recently seen his candidate defeated in an upstate special election. Democrats have been counting on taking over the State Senate this year, and they expected to need only one seat to do so. Any ties in the State Senate would be broken by the lieutenant governor, in this case Democrat David Paterson.
Should Spitzer resign over his involvement in the Emperor’s Club prostitution scandal Paterson would be appointed as his replacement. That would leave Bruno to serve in the capacity of lieutenant governor, and the New York State constitution offers no mechanism to appoint any replacement. In effect the tie-breaker would be gone, and Democrats would face the more daunting task of taking over two seats to achieve a State Senate majority before 2011.
“In case of vacancy in the office of lieutenant-governor alone, or if the lieutenant-governor shall be impeached, absent from the state or otherwise unable to discharge the duties of office, the temporary president of the senate shall perform all the duties of lieutenant governor during such vacancy or inability,” reads the provision in the State Constitution regarding vacancies for lieutenant governor.
There is no way to replace the lieutenant governor in New York, and Paterson’s ascension would give Bruno more breathing room to hold his fading majority, said Alan Chartock, professor emeritus at University of Albany and a noted commentator on New York State government. Chartock said that he had once asked Paterson if he would be interested in taking Senator Hillary Clinton’s seat in Washington should she be elected president, and Paterson referenced the loss of his tie-breaking vote.
“He said, ‘not if we’re ahead by one vote,’ for exactly that reason,” said Chartock.
Pretty suspicious timing, if you ask us… Coincidence?