New York Democratic Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned from office moments ago, just two days after revelations surfaced about his involvement in a prostitution ring.
"I am deeply sorry I did not live up to what was expected of me," Spitzer said at a news conference at his Manhattan office. "For this reason I am resigning from the office of governor."
Spitzer will be succeeded by Lt. Gov. David A. Paterson, a Harlem Democrat. Paterson, who is legally blind, will become New York's first African American governor. The transfer of power will take place next Monday, at Paterson's request.
While Spitzer mulled his political and legal future with his family and trusted friends and aides at his Manhattan apartment on Fifth Avenue, his fate appeared sealed following a brief statement he made on Monday in which he acknowledged he had "acted in a way that violates my obligations to my family and that violates my, or any, sense of right and wrong."
Republican state lawmakers vowed to seek impeachment proceedings against Spitzer if he refused to step aside.
In his brief comments this morning, Spitzer said: "In the past few days I have begun to atone for my private failings. The remorse I feel will always be with me."
"From those to whom much is given much is expected," he added. "I have been given much. I am deeply sorry I did not live up to what was expected of me. . . I look at my time as governor with a sense of what might have been. I cannot allow my private failings to disrupt the peoples' work."
Spitzer, the married father of three girls, was identified by law enforcement sources as the anonymous "Client-9" in court papers who paid for a prostitute to travel from New York to Washington on Feb. 13 to meet him at a hotel subsequently identified as the Mayflower. The court papers, including details of wiretapped conversations, indicated that Spitzer was a regular client of the high-end escort service, known as the Emperors Club VIP.
The resignation of Spitzer bookends a career marked by a meteoric rise and, now, a just as meteoric fall. Spitzer rose to national prominence as the crusading attorney general of New York State -- busting a series of white-collar crimes on Wall Street and reveling in the portrait of himself as a modern day Eliot Ness.
Largely on the strength of that national reputation, Spitzer was elected overwhelmingly in 2006 -- winning with 70 percent of the vote against former state Assemblyman John Faso. While Spitzer had struggled somewhat during his first year in office -- most notably his ill-fated proposal to grant drivers' licenses to illegal immigrants -- he was still regarded, even by many Republican, as a formidable political figure.
"I commend Governor Spitzer's decision to step down from office," said Gov. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association. "He has achieved a number of important accomplishments as Governor of New York, and I wish him and his family the best as they continue to work through this private matter."
Spitzer's resignation almost certainly ends his political career -- at age 48.
For more on the political impact of Spitzer's resignation, make sure to check out yesterday's post on The Fix as well as Post reporter Peter Baker's take on the echoes of Spitzer in the presidential race.
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