Prosaic Justice for Spitzer
That was the title of an article I wrote back in March when the bizarre Elliot Spitzer story broke. The subtitle predicted that “Luckily for [Spitzer], he’ll get what he too often failed to give.” I’m pleased to report that my confidence was well-founded: As the WSJ reports, Michael Garcia, the U.S. Attorney at my old office (and an old friend of mine), has announced that Spitzer will not be charged by the feds. His statement is as follows:
In light of the policy of the Department of Justice with respect to prostitution offenses and the longstanding practice of this Office, as well as Mr. Spitzer’s acceptance of responsibility for his conduct, we have concluded that the public interest would not be further advanced by filing criminal charges in this matter.
I didn’t have any doubt that Mike would come out that way if that’s where the facts of the investigation took him. But I think he should be applauded for doing the right thing and for reaffirming the oft-forgotten principle that the public interest is sometimes not advanced by filing criminal charges — even if an investigation has a high profile, its subject is an unpopular figure, and some violation, which is minor in the greater scheme of things, has been committed. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strongly disapprove of the person’s conduct as a society, or that the conduct shouldn’t have its natural political or economic ramifications. It simply means that prosecution in such circumstances is overkill.