As governor, Eliot Spitzer was a champion of publicly financed elections, but now as he runs for city comptroller he is dismissing them as a drain on taxpayers, raising charges of hypocrisy from his main rival in the race, Scott Stringer. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.
Then-Governor Eliot Spitzer said in a 2007 speech, "Full public financing must be the ultimate goal of our reform effort."
Now, the city comptroller candidate is tapping his family's fortune in his comeback bid.
Spitzer said last week, "What I would say is that I hope to spend enough to create a fair debate."
The stances has Spitzer's rival, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, claiming he is not only flip-flopping, but tainting New York's campaign finance system in which Stringer participates. Small donations there are rewarded with matching city funds.
"There can't be one set of rules for Eliot Spitzer and one set of rules for the rest of us," Stringer said.
The borough president wants Spitzer to match his limit in this race: $4 million.
The former governor is rejecting that proposal, saying in a statement, "I support campaign finance, but have not been able to spend years raising money from the special interests, which will then be matched by campaign finance. I have said that I will spend sufficient funds to inform the public about where I stand on the issues facing the City and all New Yorkers at this crucial time."
Spitzer is also expected to be the subject of attack ads from outside groups looking to derail his candidacy. It could bring down poll numbers that show him in the lead.
A new poll finds the former governor with 48 percent of the vote. Thirty-three percent are for Stringer and 16 percent do not know or are not answering.
But 62 percent of respondents have not heard enough about Stringer to form an opinion.
As governor, Spitzer tried to limit campaign donations. It was not directed against self-funded candidates, but was instead seen as a way to hobble political rival, then-state Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno. Regardless, the bid largely failed during Spitzer's 14-month term.
Spitzer's fortune comes from his elderly father, a real estate developer.
His exact wealth is not known. That is because Spitzer missed a deadline to file a disclosure form from the city's Conflicts Of Interest Board. He says he will file before Thursday, allowing him to avoid a fine.