Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Spitzer the hypocrite

If criminal charges are levied against New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer as a result of the prostitution scandal that broke yesterday, they won't be for being a john. Nor for his hypocrisy, although he should be rightly shunned for that.

Nope ... the two most likely charges are transporting a person across state lines (from New York to the District of Columbia) for illicit purposes; and what's known as "structuring" -- that is, issuing a series of payments just below the $10,000 minimum to require reporting to the feds of unusual transactions.

This was what a lot of Catholic Irish Americans did during the Troubles. They believed it was their patriotic duty to support the IRA (a terrorist group). Knowing about the $10k rule, they sent transmittances to Sinn Fein in amounts just below that -- $9000, $9900, $9999.99; so the crime of structuring was created to deter this "get around." As I understand it, that's what got Rush Limbaugh into trouble, making successive payments below the threshold to his dealer that supplied his pain killers; not the fact that he had excess amounts of pain killers in his possession.

The sad part is the feds initially thought Spitzer was being bribed, or worse extorted or shaken down, after his bank noticed a series of unusually large transactions. Instead, he was shaking out his middle leg inside a $4300 per hour service agent.

The most galling thing of all is that even when all is said and done, he'll do less time than the prostitute. This may be a bad case study, but this is even more reason why the law has to be changed to protect the sex trade workers and punish the johns who exploit them.

As for Spitzer -- he should resign, period. He's bad for his state, and an even worse neighbour to Ontario and Québec.

UPDATE (8:23 am EDT, 1223 GMT): Slight clarification about Limbaugh. The original version made it appear that he supported the IRA. That was certainly not what I meant.

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