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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 March 2008, 15:49 GMT
Profile: Eliot Spitzer
New York Governor Eliot Spitzer
Eliot Spitzer built his career based on rooting out corruption
Eliot Spitzer, who has resigned as governor of New York amid a sex scandal involving a prostitute, was elected to the post in November 2006.

His spectacular fall from grace halts what had been seen as a rising career in politics, with Mr Spitzer sometimes even mentioned as a possible future presidential candidate.

He made his name - and earned his "Sheriff of Wall Street" nickname - as New York's attorney general, pursuing powerful financial institutions in the courts. He also took on a powerful New York crime family.

His governorship marked a prize win for the Democrats, as the office had been in Republican hands since 1994.

Mr Spitzer had given his backing to Hillary Clinton in the current battle to be the Democratic presidential candidate.

Aggressive

A Harvard Law graduate and heir to a real-estate fortune, he was described by critics as having an aggressive personality driven by an ambitious agenda.

He was elected New York State Attorney General in 1998, and earned a crusading reputation by taking on high-profile civil actions and criminal prosecutions.

Wall Street investment bankers, insurers and racketeers were in his sights.

When he tackled organised crime, he decided to break a racket in which the Gambino family controlled the trucking business in the garment district of New York.

He set up a false garment factory sweatshop to get the evidence he needed, then charged the Gambinos with a relatively trivial charge, breaking anti-trust law.

With this threat over them, they agreed to pay $12m in fines - but, crucially, stayed out of the business.

Reform setbacks

Among his other targets were US insurance broker Marsh & McLennan, who paid $850m (451m) in January 2005 to settle charges brought by Mr Spitzer's office that it had conspired with insurance providers to rig the marketplace.

In 2006, drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) agreed to pay $14m (8m) to settle claims that it fraudulently tried to delay competitors to anti-depressant drug Paxil.

Mr Spitzer brought the case on behalf of 49 states, accusing GSK of using frivolous patent-infringement lawsuits against generic producers of Paxil, keeping the drug's cost higher than necessary.

In reaching the deal, GSK said it denied any wrongdoing or liability.

As a politician, Mr Spitzer was seen as a rising star of the Democratic Party.

But his reform programme suffered a number of setbacks, including the rejection of plans to give all immigrants in New York State driving licences, and a bill that would legalise same-sex marriage in New York.

On his support for Mrs Clinton, Mr Spitzer said: "I look forward to sharing with the rest of the country the values and strengths that will make her an excellent president."



SEE ALSO
NY governor apologises in scandal
10 Mar 08 |  Americas
NY immigrant license plan dropped
15 Nov 07 |  Americas
HARDtalk in America: Eliot Spitzer
17 Mar 06 |  Hardtalk
A Spitzer in the eye for Glaxo
04 Jun 04 |  Business
Glaxo agrees US Paxil settlement
29 Mar 06 |  Business

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