Disgraced former Gov. Eliot Spitzer announced tonight that he will run for New York City comptroller, confirming in a Twitter message: “Yes, I’m running for NYC Comptroller. Office is ripe for greater & more exciting use of the office’s jurisdiction.”
Spitzer has viewed the role of comptroller as similar to that as his two terms as attorney general: the ability to pressure Wall Street into reforming its practices. He was known as the Sheriff of Wall Street before he ran for governor in 2006, only to resign in a prostitution scandal in March 2008.
In an interview with Gannett’s Albany Bureau in March — on the five-year anniversary of his resignation — Spitzer provided detailed insight into his thinking about the comptroller’s position — albeit about rumors he might run for state comptroller.
He said at the time that he had an “intellectual fascination” with the comptroller’s job. His thinking would certainly apply to the city’s seat — which controls some of the largest pension funds in the country.
“Ownership trumps regulation as a way to change the way corporations behave,” Spitzer said. He said that, “only wise judgment can lead you to the right choices, and wise judgment is a consequence of pressure from ownership. And ownership is controlled by shareholders. Shareholders are the comptrollers, those who control the pension funds, the mutual funds.”
He said shareholders, particularly large ones like state comptrollers, could even force changes to the controversial Citizens United federal decision, which allows for big corporate contributions to political campaigns.
“The answer to Citizens United is shareholders saying don’t waste your time, energy and money playing politics. Leave that to individuals. You focus on building a better widget,” Spitzer said.
Even then Spitzer didn’t rule out a run for office.
“I think if you ask anybody who’s been in elective office, there is always a desire to get back into an arena that is fascinating, rewarding, full of excitement and tension,” Spitzer said. “It’s somewhat like athletes: rarely do they know exactly when it’s best to leave.”
He continued: “It doesn’t mean you succumb to that temptation. It doesn’t mean that you do get back in. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t do it either.”