Politics & Policy

Kristin Davis’s Libertarian ‘Tough Love’

In the race for NYC comptroller, the former Manhattan Madam is more qualified than Client 9.

Kristin M. Davis is perplexed. She has been a candidate for New York City comptroller since April 9, but only in the last couple of weeks has she gotten any exposure. Knowing the answer already, I ask her why she thinks that is. “Because Eliot Spitzer jumped into the race. Intriguing that . . . ,” she laughs. “I got overwhelming support in the Libertarian convention. I’ve been here for three months!”

“People haven’t educated themselves,” Davis says. They’ve “reported the situation the other way around, assuming that I jumped in the race to oppose Spitzer — as if it were a vendetta. But I was already in the race. It’s been five years now. I’m not holding onto any anger toward this man, or I’d be a very miserable person.” Davis is referring, of course, to the events of 2008, when she was arrested in the wake of a prostitution scandal that involved the then-governor of New York. She was convicted of promoting prostitution and imprisoned in Rikers Island for four months.

Still, angry or not, Davis does believe she has suffered a “lot more” than Eliot Spitzer. “I’m more disgraced,” she concludes, bluntly. “There’s a double standard between men and woman, and between the rich or politically connected and the average citizen.” I ask for examples. “In 2007, as governor, the first thing that Spitzer did in office was to make it a felony for a man to get caught using a prostitute. But he wasn’t held to the same standard when he did it himself.”

“He is a psychopath!” Davis continues, switching gears somewhat. “[He] illegally financed his first two campaigns, got caught by the New York Times, and then he lied about it. His whole career has been built on felonies that he’s never been prosecuted for. How is he going to run for a fiduciary office in which teamwork is required? In his resignation speech, he said he couldn’t control his own compulsions and desires. Well, how can he control a financial situation, and how can he in any measure take responsibility?”

I ask Davis what she’s been through. “Well,” she sighs, “I was held accountable for the crime I committed — and I am an adult about it. I deserved to serve my time, regardless of my viewpoint on whether what I did should be legal. I forfeited every penny I owned, I lost my home, and I came out with absolutely nothing. That is a very harsh lesson.” Meanwhile, Spitzer “had to resign and was publicly disgraced,” she notes. “Then he moved from a $175,000-a-year job to a million-dollar-a-year job when he could influence the nation. Did he really suffer? It was a minor setback.”

Davis ran for governor in 2010 on the Anti-Prohibition-party ticket, making liberalizing firearms laws, extending marriage to gays, and the legalizing prostitution and marijuana her key issues. She has “two gay uncles,” she offers, and grew up thinking it was “just normal.” While she is still passionate about this, it was rendered moot as a local question by the state legislature in 2011. Prostitution is still a pressing concern, though. “The girl that the Craigslist murderer killed worked for me,” she says. “I feel strongly that women shouldn’t be worried about calling the police because they’re worried about being prosecuted. If they could [call], maybe she would still be alive.”

Davis pauses. “But I’ve changed my views on prostitution in a strange way,” she admits. “I’ve sort of grown as I’ve seen other businesses. I don’t think there should be businesses such as brothels or pimps. I just think that if the woman and man choose, it should be legal. But putting it under the control of a business owner takes [it] away from a woman, who then can’t set boundaries or do what she wants with her body? No.”

“Do you support legislation to do just that, or is this just a personal view?” I ask. “In other words, would you support a law that rendered it illegal to run a prostitution business but not illegal between two people directly?”

 “Have you seen the HBO show Cathouse?” Davis asks. I confess that I have not. “It is about the Moonlite BunnyRanch in Nevada — and it’s one of the most degrading things I’ve ever seen.”

“The women have to stand there degrading themselves for twelve-hour shifts,” she continues. “There’s no price minimum, the environment is awful, and the women can’t set their own boundaries. I don’t support things that would be degrading toward women. I always had my girls’ backs. I let them set those boundaries, and I supported them. Very few people run their business that way.” On her campaign website, Davis lists “feminist” as the first descriptor.

As a convicted felon, Davis, who is a rare New York City champion of the Second Amendment, is barred from owning firearms. She describes this state of affairs as “scary.” “When Eliot Spitzer decides he wants to run against you, and you have reporters who won’t identify themselves coming to your home at midnight — stuff like that is scary. Having been inside the system and having seen dirty correctional officers, I would like to have a gun.”

This is one of Davis’s pet causes. “The Second Amendment is there so that we can protect and defend ourselves,” Davis tells me. “I’ve always felt strongly we should be able to have all of our constitutional rights protected and not manipulated. The Supreme Court has held in ten different cases that it is not the job of the police to protect you. It is the sole right of individuals to protect themselves.” I agree, naturally.

But what of Davis’s platform for city comptroller? After all, these are questions better suited to the broader mayoral race. “I’m a libertarian, so obviously my economic viewpoint is all about the free market,” Davis says. “My background is actually finance, which neither of the other candidates has any experience in.” She explains something that most people don’t know: “I spent years doing SEC compliance for a multibillion-dollar client — making sure they weren’t doing anything illegal — and was the senior vice president of a multibillion-dollar hedge fund. . . . I’m qualified.”

From this, Davis seamlessly moves to the topic of marijuana legalization, which she says is “very important” to her. “I know it’s not within the scope of the comptroller,” she qualifies. “But it could bring in a billion dollars a year for New York. Bloomberg will leave a $2.2 billion deficit — an obscene amount. This is why we need to stop putting billionaires into power. They don’t know what the average New Yorker goes through or needs.”

“Such as?” I ask.The city needs a lot of libertarian tough love, Davis replies. She’s for slashing taxes and spending, reforming the pension system, and helping to get government off the backs of the people. She wants to “end the NYC nanny-state philosophy,” including the smoking ban. More controversially, she promises to “stop the racist NYPD stop-and-frisk policy.” This all sounds good to me.

Now, I suppose, we just need to stop that under-qualified celebrity Eliot Spitzer from jumping into the race and distracting us from the serious candidates . . . 

— Charles C. W. Cooke is a staff writer at National Review.


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