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Source: Spitzer transition talks under way
Aides to New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer are holding transition meetings with the lieutenant governor's office, a top legislative staffer said as calls for Spitzer's resignation heated up Tuesday.
If Spitzer resigns, Lt. Gov. David Paterson, 53, would become the state's first black governor and the fourth in U.S. history. The former Senate minority leader is legally blind and is the son of Basil Paterson, a longtime Democratic operative in New York City.
No further information was immediately available about the reported meetings between Spitzer and Paterson staffers.
Political opponents quickly called for Spitzer's resignation after federal investigators linked New York's Democratic governor to a high-rolling prostitution ring.
On Tuesday, a day after Spitzer apologized for a personal matter without elaborating, New York's minority leader in the state Assembly issued a warning: Resign by Thursday or face potential impeachment.
A spokesman for state Assemblyman James Tedisco said that Tedisco plans to introduce articles of impeachment within 48 hours if Spitzer didn't step down.
Tedisco, a Republican, called for Spitzer's immediate resignation after prosecutors unsealed an affidavit detailing a rendezvous in a Washington hotel room last month. The affidavit refers only to "Client 9," but a source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN on Monday that the reference was to Spitzer.
Tedisco said he was providing the two-day window because Spitzer "may be making decisions or negotiations with the law enforcement officials in relationship to the legal aspects of this."
"Our hearts are broken," Tedisco said. "But we have to continue with governance here and this is a total distraction. It's a circus here at the New York state Capitol."
Tedisco said he already is preparing the paperwork for the articles of impeachment, which haven't been introduced in the state Assembly in more than a century. He insisted it wasn't about partisan politics but "about what's right and wrong in moving this government forward."
Though he hasn't been been charged with any crime, Spitzer has begun assembling a legal team. He has tapped Michele Hirshman as his lead attorney, said Madelaine Miller, a spokeswoman for Hirshman's law firm, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.
Hirshman, who was the first deputy attorney general under Spitzer when he was New York attorney general, also is a former assistant U.S. attorney who "served as chief of the Public Corruption Unit, where she led major investigations and prosecutions of government fraud and political and police corruption," according to the law firm's Web site.
The Republican Governors Association called on Spitzer to resign to "allow the people of New York to pursue honest leadership."
"The American people are tired of corrupt and hypocritical politicians. The governor of New York is just another in the long list of politicians that have failed their constituents," said Nick Ayers, the association's executive director.
Spitzer took office in January 2007 after eight years as the state's attorney general, rising to national prominence.
Spitzer, 48, who is married with three children, went before reporters Monday to confess to an undisclosed personal indiscretion, saying he had acted "in a way that violates my obligations to my family, that violates my or any sense of right and wrong."
He did not acknowledge the allegations, which were revealed Monday in The New York Times, nor did he take questions. Watch Spitzer's apology
His alleged involvement with the ring was caught on a federal wiretap, the source said.
The prostitute, identified only as "Kristen" worked for the Emperors Club, which charged between $1,000 and $5,500 an hour and operated in New York; Los Angeles, California; Miami, Florida; London, England; and Paris, France, according to court papers.
Details from messages
According to the affidavit, defendant Temeka Rachelle Lewis -- who is accused of working as a booking agent for the club -- wrote a text message February 11, asking the operation's day-to-day organizer to "pls let me know if (Client 9's) 'package' arrives 2mrw. Appt wd be on Wed." Prosecutors say the message was a reference to a deposit.
On February 12, according to the affidavit, Lewis sent a message to Kristen, saying Client 9's deposit had not arrived but she should be able to "do the trip" if it arrived the next day. View a gallery of recent political sex scandals
In a later conversation, Lewis and Kristen discussed when the prostitute could take a train from New York's Penn Station to Washington's Union Station, the affidavit said. Client 9 would be "paying for everything -- train tickets, cab fare from the hotel and back, mini bar or room service, travel time, and hotel."
Paying for a prostitute to travel from New York to Washington could violate federal law. The Mann Act makes it a federal offense to take someone across state lines for the purpose of prostitution.
The affidavit says that on February 12 at about 5 p.m., Lewis spoke with Client 9 on the telephone and told him that his "package arrived today." The client asked Lewis whom he would be meeting and, when told it was Kristen, said, "Great, OK, wonderful."
The two discussed how the woman would get a key to his room for a February 13 rendezvous and how they could arrange credit for future services.
"Client 9 asked Lewis to remind him what Kristen looked like and Lewis said that she was an American, petite, very pretty brunette, 5 feet 5-inches and 105 pounds," the affidavit reads.
In a call to Lewis, Client 9 was told the balance would be $2,712.41, but Lewis suggested he give Kristen $1,500 or $2,000 more so that he would have a credit.
According to the affidavit, Kristen called Lewis about 9:32 p.m. on February 13 and told her she was in Client 9's room -- No. 871 -- at the Washington hotel.
Four minutes later, Client 9 was in the hotel, Lewis told Kristen in another call.
A source familiar with the investigation identified the hotel as the toney Mayflower. Spitzer registered at the hotel under the name George Fox, two sources close to the investigation said.
No more calls were logged until 12:02 a.m. -- Valentine's Day -- nearly 2½ hours later. At that time, Kristen told Lewis that Client 9 had left and she had collected $4,300.
Lewis told the prostitute she'd been told that Client 9 "would ask you to do things that, like, you might not think are safe -- you know -- I mean that ... very basic things," the affidavit says.
Kristen told Lewis, "I have a way of dealing with that. ... I'd be like, listen dude, you really want the sex?"
"I don't think he's difficult," Kristen is quoted as saying. "I mean it's just kind of like ... whatever ... I'm here for a purpose. I know what my purpose is. I am not a ... moron, you know what I mean."
Spitzer, who built his career on rooting out public corruption as New York attorney general, became a national figure with a series of high-profile Wall Street investigations. He also prosecuted prostitution rings. See a timeline of his life
Now his lawyers may be questioned about how he paid for the alleged hotel encounter, whether the trail was concealed and whether any banking laws were circumvented as a result, the source said.
The investigation into the Emperor's Club, which began in October 2007, included evidence from a confidential source identified in court papers as a prostitute who worked at the club in 2006 and was given immunity.
It also included statements from an undercover officer who posed as a customer, more than 5,000 intercepted phone calls and text messages, more than 6,000 e-mails recovered with search warrants, bank records, travel and hotel records and physical surveillance.