New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has been called everything from "The Most Feared Man on Wall Street" [see MME 11/10/03] to "tough cop" to "legal extortionist." He's even been dubbed "judge, jury and prosecutor."
Spitzer's uncovering of scandals in industries ranging from investment banking to mutual funds to insurance has given a new meaning to reform on Wall Street. Still, the 45-year-old attorney general denies that his work is motivated by a political agenda.
In an interview with the Denver Post, Spitzer refutes his critics' argument that his resolve to unearth corrupt practices on Wall Street is dictated by his aspirations to run for New York governor next year.
"Challenging the motive of the prosecutor is the last refuge of the guilty," he says.
He spares no sympathy for government prosecutors who have turned a blind eye to wrongdoing on Wall Street. "The people in Washington who were supposed to be doing these things are spineless and gutless," he said. "They're more worried about what their next job will be than in actually challenging people they are supposed to be overseeing."
This year, Spitzer is expected to turn his attention to the pharmaceutical industry. While that might only make his critics pick on him more, Spitzer insists that it is not politics that governs his work, but capitalism.
"The rule of law is what makes capitalism," he said. "Most CEOs understand that they all benefit when there's honesty in the marketplace."