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Somewhere, perhaps at a rooftop bar in Manhattan, I imagine Hank Greenberg, Dick Grasso and Ken Langone toasting each other. Former New York Attorney General (and, at the moment, current New York Governor) Eliot Spitzer may have accused them of various wrongs stemming from hubris to outright greed, but nobody could ever say they hired a prostitute to come down from New York to Washington for the night. (Did she catch a private jet, or just take the Amtrak train like most business travelers?)
Spitzer is not the first executive to have hired a call girl during a business trip, nor will he be the last. But I marvel that a man who held others to such rigorous standards wouldn’t impose some of the same on himself. I find myself thinking of the recent book on Judgment, by Noel Tichy and Warren Bennis. Needless to say, Spitzer showed a remarkable lack of judgment when it came to managing his own life. He has accused the insurance industry of being “rife with corruption” and secured billions in settlements from Wall Street firms. He also knew he had a very public gallery of enemies waiting to pounce on any mistake he made.
Supporters say Spitzer did much to enhance the rights of individual traders, while critics accused him of going too far in his zest to uncover financial malfeasance. His stint in Albany, meanwhile, has already been marked by drama and accusations. Whatever his record, though, this latest chapter will sadly become a defining moment in Spitzer’s career.
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