Public Reaction to Spitzer Scandal

Public figures speak about the allegations surrounding New York governor.

ByABC News
March 11, 2008, 3:44 PM

March 12— -- Known for touting strict ethics and clamping down on white-collar corruption, New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer earned the nickname "Sheriff of Wall Street." But now Spitzer has the feds very publicly policing him.

Spitzer called allegations that he was a client of a pricey prostitution ring a "personal" matter, but the scandal couldn't be more public.

Everyone is talking about Spitzer's fall from grace, politicians have called for his resignation, and he has become fodder for comedians such as David Letterman, Stephen Colbert and Jay Leno.

Here's a round-up of the most notable reactions.

Jon S. Corzine, Democratic g overnor of New Jersey

"These are serious and disturbing accusations that are completely at odds with the man I know. They come as a complete shock. ... He will have to regain credibility not only with his family but with the public," Corzine told the Associated Press.

Mario Cuomo, former Democratic governor of New York

"It is an excruciating personal tragedy for the governor, his family, and the rest of our society to whom he has meant so much," Cumo told the Associated Press.

Ken Langone, ex-New York Stock Exchange Director, who was targeted by Spitzer over the pay package for former NYSE chief Richard Grasso.

"We all have our own private hells. I hope his private hell is hotter than anybody else's," he said on CNBC.

Dina Matos McGreevey, the estranged wife of former New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey

McGreevey resigned after admitting to an affair with a male aide. The Spitzers' public appearance mirrored that of the McGreevey's.

"I would tell him to resign. Don't prolong the anguish and the ridicule, for your family's sake. And certainly come clean and be completely honest," Matos McGreevey advised via The Associated Press.

All three of the mainline presidential hopefuls cautiously chimed in on the allegations surrounding Spitzer.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.

"I obviously am sending my best wishes and thoughts to the governor and to his family. ... Let's wait and see what comes out of the next days. Right now I don't have any comment. I think it's appropriate to wish his family well and see how things develop," Clinton, who has been endorsed by Spitzer in her presidential run, told the Associated Press.

"I was just watching, as all of you have, this information about the governor of New York,'' McCain said to the New York Times. "I don't know what to make of it - our prayers go out to his family."

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.

"I really haven't seen the details of it, so I don't know what's going on," Obama said to the New York Times. "I'm a little in the dark."

Famed Hollywood Madam Heidi Fleiss

"He wants to get laid. He just went about it in a very sloppy manner," Fleiss told ABC News on Nightline.

Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report"

Now," the governor was supposed to give a press conference [Monday] at 2:15 p.m. but a whole hour passed before he spoke. To be fair, it is daylight savings time and the governor usually has a prostitute change his clocks," said Stephen Colbert. (NY Times).

CBS's Late Night with David Letterman

David Letterman used his nightly "Top 10" to list Eliot Spitzer Excuses. Letterman mused, "I thought Bill Clinton legalized this years ago" and said Spitzer "Wanted to be known as the Charlie Sheen of politics." (NY Times)

NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno"

"About Mr. Spitzer's identification as Client No. 9 in federal court papers, he said, "He's the governor, who are the eight guys in front of him?" said Leno, "You'd think as governor, he'd at least get to go first."