June 12, 2005

Eliot Spitzer, Witch Hunter

And here we have the New York Attorney General, Eliot Spitzer, a man so full of ambition to build the resume he feels he needs to further his political career that he executes the duties of his position using a  jungle rules approach, attacking target companies through what amounts to browbeating them into “out of court” settlements, because he knows he wouldn’t win any of his dubious, weakly conceived cases against them before a jury.

An Op Ed in WSJ Opinion Journal’s Review & Outlook(Friday, 10 June), titled The Siphol Verdict   A jury instructs Eliot Spitzer on the rule of law, discusses a case in which Spitzer went after one Theodore C. Siphol for “late trading”, as the defendant had been helping Canary Capital trade mutual funds after 4:00 P.M., when the market closed for the day. The problem the Spitz encountered was that there is no law on the books that says “late trading” is illegal, only that trading after the NAV(net asset value) of a mutual fund is computed for the day is illegal, and that happens about an hour and a half after the close of trading of a mutual fund for that day.


Mr. Siphol is the exception to the usual Spitzer rule of using strong-arm tactics to coerce settlements out of business. The Attorney General has become famous for assailing a business practice that is either controversial or legally ambiguous, and then using leaks via the media and the threat of indictment or the destruction of an entire company to force his targets to surrender.


In the case of mutual fund “late trading,” that tactic worked with Bank of America and Canary Capital, the hedge fund whose trades Mr. Siphol had helped execute. But when Mr. Siphol, a mid-level functionary, refused a plea offer that included jail time, the Attorney General came down on him like J. Edgar Hoover on John Dillinger, with multiple counts and potential jail time of up to 30 years.


This led Mr. Spitzer into the terra incognita of a jury trial, where he’d have to prove that “late trading” was illegal….


Eliot, Eliot, Eliot….

What’s wrong with being a man of honor? If you want to feather your cap so badly, why not find some legitimate criminals to pursue rather than simple targets of opportunity?

I know, I know, you really don’t care all that much about your duty to those who elected you AG, it’s all about finding vulnerable shortcuts to glory and thereby(hopefully, to you) a platform from which to launch a campaign for governor. Did you serve in Vietnam? If so, be sure to include that in as many sentences as you can in your campaign speeches, it just might work this time. The last guy that tried it  nearly succeeded, but unfortunately(for him, not for the nation) many of those who knew him in Southeast Asia came out of the woodwork with accounts of his service that weren’t quite as heroic as his own version. Can you say “180 degrees?” 


I try so hard not to sound like an extremely right wing kind of guy, I really do, but sometimes it can’t be helped, because I am an American and I’m proud of my government and my country and my President. This, I think, is what causes me to digress. I promise to try not to do that.




But seriously, before you drag your next would-be victim before a jury, you should take a year off from work and study under John Edwards. He’ll teach you how to manipulate a jury to the point that they’d convict an armless, legless, blind, four year old deaf mute of strangulation to death of the Heavyweight Champion of the World. 


There I go again, dammit!    



Read the editorial.

by @ 8:27 am. Filed under Motivations: Political