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Friday, December 01, 2006

Lawyerus Politicus

Eliot Spitzer, New York's Governor-elect

Why is this man smiling?

Actually, "smiling" is an insufficient word. "Beaming," perhaps. Or "Filled with mirth, glee, and spectacular merriment" might do. But why? Sez the New York Times, in answer:

Moving swiftly in his efforts to change the culture of Albany, Governor-elect Eliot Spitzer said Thursday that he would unilaterally stop accepting campaign contributions greater than $10,000, which is less than a fifth of the $50,100 in individual donations currently allowed by state law.

Mr. Spitzer also said that from now on he would refuse to take advantage of several notorious loopholes in the state’s campaign finance laws that allow corporations and limited liability companies to circumvent donation limits by contributing through subsidiaries and other related entities.

Oh, that's nice. Mr. Spitzer, of whom I've written before in a post on "Spitzerism," is dropping the size of the contributions he'll accept from roughly 25 times the federal limit for individual campaign donations to merely roughly five times that limit. (The NYT gets the federal number wrong, I think, unless I'm badly misreading the Federal Election Commission's website. But the Times informs us that "New York’s current limit on single donations, $50,100 to candidates for statewide office for their primary and general elections, is the highest of any state that has contribution limits," which I'll assume is correct.)

My favorite line from the NYT's story on Mr. Spitzer's spiel is this one:

Mr. Spitzer announced a number of areas where he said he planned to hold his administration to a higher standard than the law demands.

"Not quite criminals!" Now there's a campaign slogan for re-election in 2010!

Mr. Spitzer is one of the most prominent members of the species Lawyerus Politico currently to be found in the United States. In his plumage and attention-attracting habits, this avis vulgaris puts my law school colleague Bill White, currently the Mayor of Houston, utterly to shame. But who better to creatively flout the spirit of campaign finance laws, while simultaneously trumpeting (now that he's elected) his voluntary ethical surpassing of the same, than the immediate past attorney-general of the State whose bar inspired national reverence fear contempt appreciation for the phrase "New York lawyer"?

The concluding paragraph of the NYT story is classic, probably without intending to be:

When Mr. Spitzer was asked if his decision to limit his contributions reflected confidence in his ability to be re-elected in four years against a candidate not bound by such self-imposed limits, or confidence that he would be able to persuade the Legislature to overhaul the state’s campaign finance laws, he said, “The logic is, this is the right thing to do to send a message that we meant what we said throughout this campaign, which is that we are going to change, in a fundamental way, the way government functions.”

Yes, indeed! Welcome, New York State government, to the "perpetual campaign," just as practiced by one current and one retired specimen of Lawyerus Politicus — both prominent examples of this (unfortunately all too common) species, they are! — your State's junior senator and her husband.

Posted by Beldar at 01:21 AM in Humor, Law (2006 & earlier), Politics (2006 & earlier) | Permalink


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Tracked on Dec 4, 2006 11:35:27 PM


(1) James B. Shearer made the following comment | Dec 1, 2006 2:21:13 PM | Permalink

I think the NYT is correct about the federal limit, it is $2100 per election and the primary and general elections are considered distinct so the combined limit is $4200 as the NYT said.

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