This documentary may be one of the best documentary films I have seen this year. A totally different perspective of Eliot Spitzer emerges. His sexual escapades are second place to the real story.
Eliot Spitzer was a child of privilege. As one of his colleagues said in the documentary, he had good genes and good money. He went to the right schools and met his wife, Silda, at Harvard. As a lawyer, he worked in the Manhattan's District Attorney's office, and was involved in the investigation which brought down the Gambino family.
In 1998 he became New York State Attorney General. He developed a reputation for going after white collar crime and had an impressive record. He went after stock price inflation, predatory lending practices and fraud at AIG. It was here that he made a huge enemy in Maurice Greenberg, the CEO of AIG. His investigative work brought about the mutual fund scandal of 2003 with the discovery of illegal trading. This led to a run for the Governor's Office, which he won in 2007. He had a reputation for running roughshod over anyone in his way, and this was part of his downfall. He tried to eliminate fraud and kick backs in office and made too many enemies. On March 10, 2008 the prostitution scandal came to light and he resigned on March 17.
There were two big surprises in this film. The first is the girl who was named in the scandal, Ashley Dupré. She has attempted to cash in on her notoriety, but only saw Spitzer once. Another girl, who wishes to remain anonymous, saw him more regularly. She agreed to speak with the documentarians but not be seen or identified. They hired an actress to speak her part. She provided, under duress, all the information to the FBI.
The other surprise was Eliot Spitzer, himself. He is interviewed throughout the film, answering many personal questions including why he was unfaithful. He is not sure why he did something so foolish and reckless. He was forthright when he said "It seemed like a good idea at the time". In one article, William Belle says, "Spitzer was a good man who was doing good things. The unfortunate thing for the rest of us is that now we are deprived of that good man. As Attorney General, Spitzer was already in the face of Wall Street uncovering white collar crime. He was in the thick of it dealing with the run up to the financial crisis; he was aware of the idiocy going on before things fell apart; he was going after those who were playing fast and loose with our money."
The people in the film, the politicians, the Wall Street denizens, come off looking very bad. This documentary by filmmaker Alex Gibney suggests that Spitzer's demise wasn't just about sex. The enemies Spitzer made on Wall Street and in the New York state capital at Albany may have contributed to his political demise. Gibney unravelled the entire scandal, interviewing many of Spitzer's adversaries. And, as I have previously stated, Spitzer makes no excuses and accepts all responsibility for his downfall. The mess on Wall Street has continued, and we have lost one of the men who was out to get them.
A surprising documentary, filled with good information, historical facts and words from those involved. I came away from this feeling we have all lost a good man. in politics. Good Luck to Eliot Spitzer.
Highly Recommended. prisrob 02-09-11
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