Huddled in the shade on the steps outside of City Hall today, an Avengers-esque group of Latino leaders gathered to claim their allegiances to city comptroller candidate Scott Stringer, and, more importantly, level an onslaught of verbal assaults against the other guy, former Gov. Eliot Spitzer.
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. began the proceedings.
“Two things bring us together,” Mr. Diaz said. “One is Scott Stringer for New York City Comptroller. And two is that as Latinos and representatives of the Latino community, we are sick and tired of the reality show and the double standards.”
This “reality show,” as he defined it, was comprised of two distinct points of fury directed at Mr. Spitzer. One–the line officially pushed from the Stringer campaign–is that Mr. Spitzer was acting hypocritically when he released only a partial versions of his tax returns–despite having called for full disclosures previously.
The second part focused more broadly on Mr. Spitzer’s nationally-publicized comeback from his infamous prostitution scandal.
Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito, for instance, joined some feminist leaders in proclaiming that Mr. Spitzer’s candidacy was an affront to women.
“One of the things, as a woman, that I’m extremely concerned about that I think really needs to be to put out there–obviously accountability and transparency is key–but Eliot Spitzer was patronizing an industry that denigrates women, that traffics women, an industry that promotes misogyny,” Ms. Mark-Viverito said with enough gusto to fill an arena. “This is critical. This is not the type of leadership that we should be having in the City of New York.”
The contingency of supporters also pointed to the hypocrisy stemming from the fact that the state’s stringent anti-human trafficking laws were passed under Mr. Spitzer’s gubernatorial administration, linking prostitution with human trafficking, as Mr. Spitzer had done in the past when he referred to prostitution as “modern day slavery.”
Ms. Mark-Viverito further argued that apologies for his mistakes don’t warrant forgiveness. “I do believe in redemption but there’s a time and place for it. I don’t think that redemption is to be in a position of power,” she said.
But New York City voters apparently disagree. Polls show Mr. Spitzer outpacing Mr. Stringer, even among women. The Stringer supporters tried to explain this phenomenon by claiming voters simply aren’t paying attention yet. “Right now they’re at the beach,” State Senator Adriano Espaillat contended. “Many people are outside of the city, they’re not here. People are not totally focused on all these races.”
For their part, the Spitzer campaign released a statement defending his disclosure decisions.
“Eliot has released multiple years of tax returns and disclosures that provide his income, deductions, investments and sources of income, and which show he paid 49% in taxes,” Spitzer spokesman Hari Sevugan said in a statement. “So, it’s odd that Mr. Stringer’s campaign can’t seem to talk about anything else. Especially in light of so many pressing issues facing a would-be comptroller.”
“Mr. Stringer can continue to remain singularly focused on Eliot’s finances if he wants,” he added, “but Eliot will continue to have a laser-like focus on strengthening the finances of New York City.”