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Spitzer Targeted by the Feds?

NEW YORK, NY —It had been the stuff of Internet conspiracy theories, but now a congressional committee is looking into whether former Governor Eliot Spitzer may have been targeted by federal agents in the prostitution investigation that forced his resignation.

Members of the House Financial Services Committee say they have no evidence that the former governor, a hard-charging Wall Street regulator, was singled out by the federal government. But some members believe that unanswered questions about how Spitzer popped up on the radar of federal investigators speak to a broader problem: the potential misuse of power under the Patriot Act.

Unusual money transfers by the governor triggered a “suspicious activity report,” or SAR, within the banking system, and it was through the money transfers that investigators discovered Spitzer was patronizing a prostitution ring.

Some on the committee have long been concerned with the government’s practice of reviewing hundreds of thousands of SARs filed by banks each year, saying they could be used inappropriately by the government – say, for political reasons. Hearings are tentatively planned for next year.

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