Updated: 3:50 PM ET April 26, 2010
Spitzer Movie Propaganda Piece
Black Sock Denial Bogus
By Roger Stone Alex Gibney's untitled documentary on Eliot Spitzer, which previewed at the Tribeca Film Festival, is a terrific campaign film; it could have been made by Guggenheim, the early political auteur, who helmed films for the Kennedy brothers. That Gibney is a great filmmaker, there is no doubt. He is also a fine fellow with whom to hoist a few and dine with while swapping stories. But his movie is a pro-Spitzer propaganda piece. Of course, Gibney guilds Spitzer's reputation as the "Sherriff of Wall Street." The film tells us about the crusading Attorney General who busts Merrill Lynch, and pursues the New York Stock Exchange's Chairman Richard Grasso for undue compensation. It is notable for its omissions: It fails to tell us for example about the Marsh McLennan settlement in which Spitzer blackmails the company into purchasing an investigative agency at an inflated price and making its CEO, a Spitzer protégé, the new head of Marsh McLennan, a condition of settlement. When this hack is forced out of Marsh McLennan, he gets a $30 million golden parachute. Didn't Spitzer pursue Grasso for excess compensation? The film also never speaks of the illegal financing of both Eliot Spitzer's 1994 and 1998 campaigns for New York Attorney General, where his father guaranteed loans illegally to finance the campaign and transferred property to Eliot that was used as collateral for a loan to pay off the preceding illegally guaranteed campaign loan. This artifice was to violate New York State Election Law, which limited Bernard Spitzer, Eliot's father, to spend no more than $100,000 toward his son's campaign. The New York Post's Mike Daley, formerly of the New York Daily News, has written extensively about the shady financing of Spitzer's early career - Gibney's refusal to interview him is a testament that this film is a polemic, not a documentary. Spitzer is not questioned in the film about why he lied repeatedly to the New York Daily News and the New York Times about the source of his campaign financings until ultimately admitting his lie and pledging to pay off the loans. After his election as AG, he decline to show evidence of the loan repayment, and the loans are "subsumed" into a larger note with his father. If Spitzer's very election as Attorney General was illegally financed, how can he be the arbiter of right and wrong? It makes everything he did as Attorney General illegitimate. He cheated the system and won. Gibney seemed to miss this. Also missing from the narrative is the neat tale of how the radical left Working Family's Party illegally expended party funds in a Democratic primary to elect a WFP- backed District Attorney in Albany, David Soares, who would later attempt to whitewash Spitzer's involvement in Troopergate before recanting and finding Spitzer's agents at the base of the plot. As Attorney General, Spitzer literally laid down in a legal case where he was supposed to defend the law prohibiting the campaign transfer that elected Soares. The Judge in the case even lashed two Deputy Attorney Generals for completely ignoring the court's deadlines, hearings, and scheduling. After Bernard Spitzer and the Spitzer Family Foundation poured money into the WFP, and a WFP-controlled foundation, th e Party was early on board for his gubernatorial bid. Again, Spitzer abuses the power of his office for political advantage. Gibney asserts the theory that billionaire Ken Langone, founder of Home Depot, took Spitzer down after Spitzer decided to pursue New York Stock Exchange Chairman Richard Grasso for excess compensation and pursue Langone as Chairman of the NYSE for approving the compensation package. Gibney notes that Spitzer did not pursue the rest of the NYSE board who had also voted for the compensation package, and he also fails to tell us it's because he would have been required to prosecute former New York Comptroller Carl McCall, an African American of great stature in the Democratic Party, who also voted to approve Grasso's compensation. Can you say, "Selective prosecution"? The problem with the Langone theory is that Gibney casually states in the film's narrative that Langone engaged a private detective to get the goods on Spitzer, but provides no proof. That's because he has none. It's a theory. Langone himself in the movie specifically denies working with any private investigators or "dirty tricks men" I assume that refers to me. Gibney does a nice job of taking us to the seamy world of high-end prostitution, but in the end, never actually gets a hooker on camera that banged Eliot as Attorney General or as Governor. Gibney conceals the realities by hiring an actress to read the actual worlds of "Angelina," an alleged prostitute who says she engaged multiple times with Spitzer, but will not disclose her real name or facial identity. The deception is Gibney uses the actress, casting her as Angelina the prostitute, twice in the film before he reveals she is an actress. Duplicitous. Here's the kicker: the hooker with no name says, "Spitzer wore no black socks." Hookum! Bullshit! Just because two liberal con men, Alex Gibney and author of Spitzer Campaign rehab book Peter Elkind, say so? Who is their source? An unnamed prostitute who may not even exist? Nice try. In fact, the New York Post reported that the FBI confirmed Spitzer's black socks fetish from a second prostitute: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/regional/item_gZMoyf3fDuSx3C4hniWVDK. Manhattan Madam Kristin Davis, who I did not meet until 2009, also confirmed his penchant for dark hosiery in the boudoir through several of the call girls she booked for Spitzer as Attorney General and Governor as early as 2005. Spitzer visited an uptown apartment Davis used for assignations with her girls. This is important because I informed the FBI about Spitzer's black sock habit in a letter 5 months before the New York Post's confirmation. Elkind and Gibney claimed the FBI said they cannot find such a letter. Contacted last week, the FBI confirmed that they made no such claim and in fact has a policy regarding release of correspondence that prohibits their commenting. The New York Post's confirmation of the black socks from the FBI got from an additional hooker came after Spitzer fell; proving my assertion to the FBI was accurate. Gibney's handling of the John Whitehead-Eliot Spitzer telephone threat drama is one of the most masterful pieces of filmmaking in this genre. Whitehead, whom I first met when he was on the Finance Committee in New Jersey for Jeff Bell's campaign for the U.S. Senate against Clifford Case, went on to serve his country as an Ambassador under Ronald Reagan. Whitehead comes across utterly believable as he recounts Spitzer's wild threats to destroy him in a telephone conversation after Whitehead wrote a piece in support of AIG Chairman Hank Greenberg. Gibney's quick editing of each line of Whitehead's memory is brilliant. Asked about the same conversation, Spitzer stammers and sweats like Nixon as he gropes for a way to deny his actual words. The point, of course, is that Spitzer was not a great Attorney General. He went after a few high profile industries to win headlines for his bid for the governorship which Bernard Spitzer, the Jewish Joe Kennedy, said was but a way-station before becoming "the first Jewish President." He blackmailed companies and executives into pleading guilty to things they hadn't done, lest he destroy their company value by leak or press release. He was the classic bully and a prick with a holier-than-thou attitude propagated by the illusion that he was the smartest man in the world. Sadly, Gibney's documentary is marred when it veers onto an ideological and partisan jihad by noting that Bill Clinton got a "blow job in the Oval Office," and he was still popular, and that right-wing Republicans such as Newt Gingrich, Senator David Vitter, Congressman Robert Livingston and others, were also embroiled in sex scandals with prostitutes, or had affairs while married. Particularly vexing is Gibney's rant against Louisiana Senator David Vitter, who was identified by the DC madam as booking prostitutes in the nation's capitol. Vitter survived the report and is still in public office. What Gibney fails to note is the madam's brutal murder before she came to trial, which the police say remains unsolved. Yes, I'd say the Vitter case is different. Arguing that because Vitter is a Republican and wasn't forced from office that Spitzer, a Democrat, shouldn't have been forced to resign from is partisan nonsense. The assertion in the film by some pompous Yale professor that the Mann Act, which prohibits the transportation of humans across state lines for the purpose of prostitution, isn't prosecuted anymore, and the John is never prosecuted, is false. In 2009, in New York State, a Supreme Court Justice was convicted of violating the Mann Act for transporting a prostitute from Hamburg, New York to Frankfort, Kentucky to service a group of his pals at a fraternal gathering he was attending. If the judge can be prosecuted, why should Spitzer walk? The idea that U.S. Attorney Michael J. Garcia was somehow wrong in pursuing a Mann Act case against Spitzer, and did so for partisan Republican reasons, is a canard. The only criticism of Garcia is this: Why didn't he prosecute for both violation of the Mann Act and federal money laundering statutes? As they said in Watergate, no one is above the law. Garcia never pressured Spitzer to resign in return for no prosecution. Spitzer resigned of his own volition. In fact, Spitzer avoided prosecution by supplying information about additional escort services he utilized. Gibney can't resist the suggestion that George Bush somehow brought Shinin g Knight Spitzer down. Sadly, Gibney undermines his film by using his co-producer Elkind as an interviewee. Spitzer leaked reporter Elkind the details of the Eddie Stern investigation while he was Attorney General, and Elkind has been a Spitzer toady since their days at Princeton. He is a cheerleader without credibility. His book has far more egregious errors than this movie. Why should anything he says be considered true? He is a partisan with an agenda: rehabilitate his college schoolmate. Gibney has done a notable job of turning chicken shit into chicken salad by recycling Spitzer's carefully crafted campaign ads along with wonderful multiple visuals of Eliot and Silda on the stump, holding hands, on the beach, with the girls, and all the other clever techniques used to try to soften your impression of this brusque, unlikable prick. Some fat slob named Jimmy Siegel actually said that every day working on the Spitzer campaign was "delightful," which is a joke in view of Spitzer's dictatorial and control freak manner. Every Democratic campaign consultant will tell you he is both a pincher of Bernard's pennies and insists on writing speeches, TV spots, and press releases himself. Spitzer is a pain in the ass to deal with in the political context because he knows everything. This fool Siegel also tells us Spitzer's use of the State Police to spy on his nemesis Joe Bruno is no big deal. In fact, use of state resources for political purposes is a crime. Gibney must not have lived in New York long, or he would know that The Village Voice's long-time left-wing hitman Wayne Barrett is so ideological that he has no credibility with anyone. Not revealed in the film is the fact that Barrett is consulting Spitzer actively on his comeback. Barrett is so rigid in his wrong thinking, it's laughable. Anything bad comes from the right; anything good comes from the left. In the views of hardcore Lefties like Barrett, there are no gray areas. Yes, Wayne, fabricating state documents and arranging for the Albany Times Union to ask for them, is a dirty trick appr oved by your angel--who is better than all of us--Eliot Spitzer. If Nixon did this, you'd be screaming. Barrett sees a right-wing conspiracy under every rock. He is a crank. The last time Wayne Barrett wrote about me, 87 individual misstatements of facts marred his articles, which revealed 36 different violations of the National Association of Journalists. Barrett has no interest in facts. His opining on Spitzer in Gibney's film is a joke -guess they couldn't get a real journalist. The Village Voice, where Barrett works, is now distributed for free. That is its worth. The film deals with the complexity of Albany and manages to show several segments of interviews with former Republican Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno in which his straight-talking nature shines through. So a voice over informs you that Bruno is under investigation for using campaign funds to pay for his horse farm. This is, of course, false as there has never been such a charge leveled at Bruno. Bruno was convicted of violating the federal honest services law. No underlining state crime was found. The case is on appeal. The U.S. Supreme Court is currently reviewing the law under which Bruno was prosecuted. I say Bruno walks. Gibney does his best to rewrite history, but the truth is Spitzer came up a loser in court in his actions against Grasso and Langone, as well as his efforts to prosecute AIG Chairman Greenberg. Gibney presents only Spitzer's side of the case against Greenberg and fails to grasp the idea that the half billion dollars Greenberg supposedly secretly borrowed to pump up AIG's bottom line wasn't enough money to affect the bottom line of a company with a $39 billion balance sheet. The truth is Spitzer was ignominiously defeated in the courts in his NYSE and AIG prosecutions. Spitzer was a successful blackmailer as Attorney General - in court, not so good, losing 80 % of cases. Gibney tries to promote the idea that Spitzer used the Emperor Club VIP Escort Service exclusively, largely because of the five agencies Spitzer is known to have used; they were the only ones willing to go on camera and talk to him. Spitzer used multiple agencies such as Kristin Davis's Wicked Models, Maxime, Dream Girls, Cover Girls and Fleur de Elite because girls who saw him once, were rarely (but occasionally) willing to see him again, based on his over-aggressiveness during sex, his black socks, and his attempts to avoid the use condoms, which are de rigueur in high- end prostitution world. Gibney was given evidence that Spitzer actually warned one of the Escort services, Fleur de Elite, he was patronizing ahead of a federal bust - a major abuse of power. It's provable- Gibney just wasn't interested in proving it. More too will be heard of this should Spitzer actually contemplate a bid for office again. Characterizing Kristin Davis as an ex-escort is also incorrect and most likely meant as a slur. Davis ran the most successful high-end escort business in the country at age 29, but there is no evidence that she worked as a prostitute at any time. She was a businesswoman, not a whore. It should be corrected before the film is finished, because Ms. Davis is litigious. In all, Gibney's film is as wrong on the facts as is Elkind's Book; a whitewash designed to punish those like Ashley DuprÃ¨ who refused to be interviewed for the movie. Ashley DuprÃ¨ is trashed for her stupidity and singing, but really, it's because she wouldn't sit for Gibney's cameras. An Emperor's Club VIP booker does comment that DuprÃ¨ had a perfect "coochie"- a sentiment I heard from one of the Girls Gone Wild cameramen and a New Jersey construction executive who have both "been" with her. The Langone/Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy/DOJ theory doesn't hold up under scrutiny. Spitzer brought himself down through hypocrisy; he was patronizing escort services at the same time he was prosecuting them. His pathological lying, megalomania and temperament are the reason this arrogant rich-boy will never be given a position of public trust again. Both the untitled movie and the book "Rough Justice" are revisionist crap designed to boost Spitzer's comeback bid.