Things just keep getting weirder for Eliot Spitzer. The papers are awash this morning with the news that Bernard Spitzer, father of the beleaguered governor, received an abusive phone call from Republican political consultant (and, as the Post notes, known swinger) Roger Stone. The governor is, of course, currently embroiled in the controversy over whether or not he directed the state police to issue damaging information about Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno's use of state aircraft for political purposes, but the current fuss concerns an earlier scandal—taking money from his dad.
Back in 1994, when Spitzer made his first, unsuccessful run for Attorney General, his dad loaned him $4.3 million for the campaign; during his 1998 run, Spitzer admitted that he had lied about repaying the loan. Cut to the present: Senate Republicans, seeking to damage the governor, are investigating the loans. Stone's phone message to the elder Spitzer, using the kind of language one usually expects from the governor, went like this:
You will be subpoenaed to testify before the Senate Committee on Investigations on your shady campaign loans. You will be compelled by the Senate sergeant at arms. If you resist the subpoena, you will be arrested and brought to Albany. And there is not a goddamn thing your phony, psycho, piece-of-shit son can do about it. Bernie, your phony loans are about to catch up with you. You will be forced to tell the truth and the fact that your son's a pathological liar will be known to all.
Wow, nice way to talk to an elderly grandfather suffering from Parkinson's disease! Roger Stone should be ashamed of himself! Except Stone claims that he had nothing to do with the call, despite the fact that it was clearly traced to a phone at his Central Park South apartment.
Stone tells the Times that:
[H]is apartment building on Central Park South is owned by H. Dale Hemmerdinger, a fund-raiser for Mr. Spitzer who is the governor's nominee to be chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and suggested that allies of the governor might have given access to his apartment to someone who made the threatening call. An official at Mr. Hemmerdinger's company said she was not prepared to comment.
Mr. Stone said: "They have unfettered access to my apartment. I am on television constantly. As Gore Vidal said, never pass up the chance to have sex or be on television. Putting together a voice tape that sounds like me wouldn't be hard to do."
Mr. Stone said he could not remember where he was on the date of the call and had no specific evidence that his apartment had been entered without authorization. But he said he believed that things have been missing from his apartment recently.
Perhaps realizing that his excuse sounds sort of like a lot of totally crazy bullshit, Stone somehow remembers his whereabouts when the message was left: He tells the Sun that he was taking in a performance of Frost/Nixon, the play about our dirtiest trickster president (for whom, unsurprisingly, Stone once worked). Stone sees a vast conspiracy.
He's not the only one. Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf also thinks there might be a cunning strategy at play, but on the part of the Republicans: "The loan story is revived and Stone gets a black eye. Stone can live with a black eye but the governor doesn't need another bad story. Some people say bad things about Roger Stone, but he doesn't care. Stone can't be hurt, but the governor can. It's not the wackiest theory I ever heard."
And that pretty much sums up Albany for you: Everyone is so crooked and corrupt and looking to screw everyone else that it's not only believable that the governor might orchestrate an angry call to his father in an attempt to gin up sympathy, but it's equally credible that the opposition may have committed the act simply to keep the governor's tarnished image at the top of the news. If we're Andrew Cuomo we're going to sit back very quietly for the next three years and wait for our shot at the mansion.
Also, if you're scoring at home, the Times was the only paper out of the three major dailies and The Sun to spell out the word "shit." Good for them.