Quid Pro Quo

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New York Attorney General Elliott Spitzer (search) has built a political career out of his relentless pursuit of white-collar criminals. In between his prosecution of corporate crooks, he’s amassed a political war chest estimated at close to $2.4 million in anticipation of a run for governor in 2006.

But now, a small shadow has descended over the white knight of Wall Street. The New York Sun newspaper has reported that Mr. Spitzer took $200,000 in contributions from two cable TV companies, whose bitter dispute prevented a lot of New Yorkers from watching their beloved New York Yankees in 2002.

While Mr. Spitzer did not play an official role in the cable companies’ dispute, he did act as an unofficial arbitrator, meeting with representatives of the cable companies in his office and at his Park Avenue apartment. The question is whether the $200,000 donations to his campaign violated Mr. Spitzer’s own rule that he would not accept money from anyone who does business with his office.

When contacted by the Sun, a representative for Mr. Spitzer denied that there was any quid pro quo. But a member of Common Cause in New York is not so sure. “It certainly raises questions about the issue of pay to play,” says Common Cause’s Rachel Leon. “Was this [the donation] in return for a deal?”

And that’s the Asman Observer!