Though it’s been less than a week since he announced his intention to run for New York City Comptroller, the Sheriff of Wall Street is making a massive comeback! Eliot Spitzer, formerly Governor of New York, and Attorney General before that, has reportedly turned in over 27,000 signatures to the NYC ballot office. As a result, he has officially been added to the Democratic primary ballot for September 10. Winning the Democratic primary is the first step (and, because this is New York, usually the last step) in being elected to be City Comptroller. Spitzer is already leading the race in the polls, with a nine-point lead over fellow Democrat Scott Stringer, the President of Manhattan Borough. Now, I’ve got nothing against Scott Stringer per se, mainly because I’d never heard of him before in my life; until Spitzer announced his intent to run on Sunday, I didn’t even know Manhattan Borough had a President! But I am wholeheartedly with the 42% of voters that are already saying they intend to vote for Spitzer, compared to Stringer’s 33%.
Eliot Spitzer is one of the very few politically powerful people left in America who actually stands up to multinational corporations, most importantly the “too-big-to-fail” banks. As Attorney General, he earned the nickname “the Sheriff of Wall Street,” and he earned it by being tough on the banksters. They were the ones who gave him that nickname, to mock him for thinking that he could muscle in on their turf, stand up for the common people, and actually hold the elites accountable to the rule of law. Silly Spitzer, don’t you realize that these banks are above the law? Well, he wasn’t having any of that. He took their mocking nickname and wore it proudly, like FDR proclaiming, as he announced the Second New Deal, that the reckless bankers who caused the Great Depression were unanimous in their hatred of him—and responding “I welcome their hatred.” That’s the kind of person we need in office, any office, right now. And that’s who Eliot Spitzer is.
A lot of people are saying that City Comptroller is such a huge demotion from Attorney General and Governor that Eliot Spitzer’s return to politics shouldn’t be taken seriously. They have a point. I wish we could get Spitzer in the White House. But this is no small step. The Comptroller is in charge of the city’s pension fund. New York City, as you might have guessed, has a pension fund worth nearly $150 billion. For decades, the banksters have treated city pension funds like the suckers at the table, repeatedly screwing them over to make an extra buck. This reached a fever pitch with the massive financial crisis created by the housing market bubble, in which the second-biggest losers were pension funds. (The biggest losers, of course, were the American taxpayers, who forked over bailout after billion-dollar bailout, but got nothing in return. See here, Mr Banking Executive, you are such a terrible businessman, and your bank such a failure, that you can’t even keep yourselves solvent. So when my fellow taxpayers and I spend billions on your company to keep it afloat, we just bought your company. We own it. And you, Mr Executive, are under arrest for massive, unprecedented fraud. See you in twenty-five to life.)
But a pension fund under Spitzer’s command will not be the sucker at the table. Instead, the pension fund will be transformed into a major shareholder with a reformative agenda. And if Spitzer can get other pension funds around the country to follow his lead, then Wall Street will be in trouble. Furthermore, the Comptroller’s office is entitled to research and release to the public an annual report on Wall Street compensation. Spitzer would have the opportunity to investigate and uncover banksters’ excesses. Finally, though the office has a more limited scope in this regard than Spitzer’s previous offices, the Comptroller position has the authority to take legal action against big business (the current Comptroller has started a lawsuit against BP for loss of investment money in the Deep Water Horizon fiasco) and pressure big banks to impose limits on executive pay. Put it all together now. Imagine a Comptroller’s office that aggressively investigates Wall Street, uncovers their dishonest dealings with city pension funds, and sues the fraudulent banks for a return of the city’s lost investment money.
Now that sounds like a job for the Sheriff of Wall Street.