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Of Ethics, Eliot Spitzer, and Speaking Truth

Patricia Harned | April 15, 2008

He was the sheriff of Wall Street, a rising star whom some believed might eventually occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Beyond Wall Street, he wanted to change the ethics of New York State and perhaps the nation as a whole. But his own ethical decisions paved the way for his political demise and his disgraced exit from the Statehouse in Albany, N.Y., long before the White House became a reality.

On March 17, Eliot Spitzer, former New York state attorney general who prosecuted corporate scoundrels, resigned after it came to light that he had employed the services of prostitutes. Spitzer had been a high-profile and controversial figure for some time, so it is no surprise that the discovery of his indiscretions and his eventual downfall made national news.

The story felt oddly familiar. Again and again, we have seen politicians, celebrities, corporate leaders, even religious figures shamed by the public revelation of an indiscretion on...

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