Published November 12, 2009
Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer gave a lecture Thursday afternoon on government financial intervention at Harvard University's ethics center, making scant reference to the prostitution scandal that drove him out of office.
The disgraced ex-official briefly acknowledged the outside interest in his rare public talk when he dismissively referred to the members of the press as "the folks who are sitting up front here scribbling everything down for headlines."
From there, he launched into an hour-long address on the topic of conditions that lead to government intervention in the private economy.
The title of the lecture was: "From Ayn Rand to Ken Feinberg -- How Quickly the Paradigm Shifts. What Should Be the Rationale for Government Participation in the Market?"
But there was considerable interest in the talk. All of the university's free tickets to the event were snatched up ahead of time, and the engagement drew a nasty objection from the former madam whose escort service reportedly provided Spitzer with high-end hookers.
According to The New York Post, Kristin Davis, who reportedly supplied Spitzer repeatedly with an escort, wrote a protest letter to the Center for Ethics calling Spitzer a "man without ethics."
"I am greatly intrigued as to what Mr. Spitzer could contribute to an ethical discussion when as Chief Executive Law Enforcement Officer of NY he broke numerous laws for which he has yet to be punished," she wrote, according to the newspaper. "As Attorney General he went around arresting and making examples out of the same escort agencies he was frequenting."
University officials said he was invited by the ethics center because of his background both as a governor and prosecutor.
"The lecture series addresses the influences within various institutions that arguably weaken the effectiveness of an institution or the public trust of the institution," Lawrence Lessig, director of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics which invited Spitzer, said in a written statement. "He joins others in this series who each have different views about the subject."
Though Spitzer's talk is limited to the topic of government intervention, there was expected to be a question-and-answer period, where the topic of ethics could come up.
"The topic is on the fiscal sector, but it's an open Q-and-A," Harvard spokesman Joe Wrinn said.
Since resigning in the wake of the prostitution scandal in early 2008, Spitzer has worked as an adjunct professor at City College of New York and at his father's real estate firm.