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‘I Apologize to the Public’

Updated, 5:44 p.m. | Following is a transcript of Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s brief statement to the public, delivered at his Midtown Manhattan office on Monday afternoon:

Over the past nine years, eight as attorney general and one as governor, I’ve tried to uphold a vision of progressive politics that would rebuild New York and create opportunity for all. We vowed to bring real change to New York and that will continue. Today, I want to briefly address a private matter. I have acted in a way that violated the obligations to my family and that violates my — or any — sense of right and wrong. I apologize first, and most importantly, to my family. I apologize to the public, to whom I promised better. I do not believe that politics in the long run is about individuals. It is about ideas, the public good and doing what is best for the State of New York. But I have disappointed and failed to live up to the standard that I expected of myself. I must now dedicate some time to regain the trust of my family. I will not be taking questions. Thank you very much. I will report back to you in short order. Thank you very much.

More than 100 reporters, along with 30 television cameras and 20 still photographers, had awaited Mr. Spitzer’s announcement — originally scheduled for 2:15 p.m. — in a packed briefing room at the governor’s office at 633 Third Avenue. As the door opened, Mr. Spitzer had his arm around his wife, Silda Wall Spitzer; the two nodded and then strode forward together. Both had glassy, tear-filled eyes, but they did not cry.

The governor — addressing reports that he had been caught on a federal wiretap arranging to meet with a high-price prostitute at a Washington hotel last month — spoke for just 64 seconds, declining to take questions and remaining silent on his political future. As he prepared to leave, three reporters screamed out, “Are you resigning? Are you resigning?”

Holding his wife’s hand, Mr. Spitzer, a Democrat, strode quickly from the room, saying nothing, until the metal door slammed behind him.

Although Albany is in turmoil, so far, public response has been muted. Sheldon Silver, a Manhattan Democrat who is speaker of the State Assembly and one of the three most powerful officials in state government, said in a statement, “The allegations against the Governor are before the public. I have nothing to add at this time.”

James N. Tedisco, the leader of the Republican minority in the Assembly, appears to have been the first state official to call publicly for Mr. Spitzer’s resignation. Mr. Tedisco said in a statement:

Today’s news that Eliot Spitzer was likely involved with a prostitution ring and his refusal to deny it leads to one inescapable conclusion: he has disgraced his office and the entire state of New York. He should resign his office immediately.

Public service is a public trust — Eliot Spitzer violated this trust and has forsaken his oath of office. For the good of his family, for the good of our state, for the good of the governorship, Eliot Spitzer must resign immediately. He is unfit to lead our state and unfit to hold public office.

Joseph N. Mondello, the chairman of the New York State Republican Committee, said in a statement:

The stunning allegations of Governor Eliot Spitzer’s personal involvement in an interstate prostitution ring are a shocking disappointment to the people of New York. This is a sad day for Governor Spitzer and his family as well as for the citizens of our state.

It is hard to see how Governor Spitzer can hope to govern effectively while the political, governmental and legal consequences of his behavior swirl about him.

New Yorkers are facing hard times. They need a Governor who is fully focused on serving their best interests. Governor Spitzer should do the right thing, not only for himself and his family, but also for all the people of New York.

He should resign immediately, so New York’s government can effectively return to serving its citizens.

United States Senator Charles E. Schumer, who was elected in 1998 and has sometimes been mentioned as a possible governor some day, said in a statement, “I feel bad for him and his family but until he makes a more complete statement, I have nothing more to say.”

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