Spitzer's Downfall

THE downfall of New York Governor Eliot Spitzer comes just weeks before a major Irish fundraiser was being planned for him.

Spitzer aides had first approached the Irish community after Spitzer had come out in favor of driver's licenses for undocumented, a clear winning issue among many Irish Americans.

The response was very good initially, but then Spitzer was forced to backtrack quickly as public sentiment proved to be very strongly against licenses for the undocumented.

However, in recent weeks the Spitzer aides had again begun reaching out to Irish Americans. Indeed, Spitzer himself had made personal phone calls to leading Irish Americans looking for their support.

A fundraiser was set for the end of March in Manhattan, but it appears quite unlikely that it will take place now.

Certainly major supporters of Spitzer will be rushing to distance themselves from the governor after the sordid revelations about the prostitution case.

Spitzer has attended just a few Irish events since becoming governor. Most notably he was the guest of honor at a US-Ireland Alliance event in New York hosted by Quinlan Private in April 2007.

Quinlan Private founder Derek Quinlan, one of the major players in the Irish building boom welcomed Spitzer and Senator Joe Biden who also attended the event. Also present was Senator George Mitchell.

Spitzer's main Irish aide has been Marty Mack, a hard working lawyer. Mack is currently a deputy state attorney general and has been a constant by Spitzer's side in recent years. He is very popular in Irish circles.

Spitzer Hated By Some

A LEADING Irish figure on Wall Street who was once a target of a Spitzer investigation left no doubt how he was feeling when the Spitzer story broke.

"Couldn't happen to a nicer guy," said the businessman, who understandably wishes to remain anonymous. He spent $750,000 clearing his firm's name, and no charges were ever filed.

He says his firm went through hell trying to fight the unsubstantiated charges. "I think he was the embodiment of a politician who was ready to do anything, hang anyone for the sake of his career," the businessman added.

Another leading Irish businessman who dislikes Spitzer stated, "He was the worst kind of publicity seeking politician I've ever come across. I know so many people he ran out of business who had broken no laws but he just wanted to make his name out of hounding them."

Strangely, when the Irish Voice interviewed Spitzer in 2006 it was a painting of Tammany Hall 's Boss Tweed, possibly the most corrupt pubic official in history on Spitzer's wall, that he pointed to.

He said it was laws passed after the Tammany scandals broke that gave him the legal ammunition to attack Wall Street wrong doers.

Power Loss a Blow

SPEAKING of resignations, Samantha Power, a likely national security advisor if a Barack Obama White House comes to pass, was forced to resign last week after calling Senator Hillary Clinton a monster in a Scottish newspaper interview.

Power, a Pulitzer Prize winning author and professor at Harvard, was born in Dublin and left Ireland at age nine to move to Atlanta.

She was on a book tour in Ireland and the U.K. when she made the controversial comments. Power had become a fixture on Irish media speaking on behalf of the Obama campaign.

It was unfortunate that she had to resign after a statement that she clearly intended to be off the record, but she never made that clear enough.

Having an Irish-born person in a high position of influence in an Obama White House would have been a major coup for Ireland. Unfortunately that will not happen now.

It is a tough transition when you move from academia to a very public role, and Power unfortunately got caught in the cross fire in a very tough and hard fought campaign.

Trimble for Obama?

OBAMA hardly needs the support of David Trimble, former Northern Ireland first minister but that is what he got this week.

Trimble called Clinton's claims of influence on Irish events, most notably the peace process "silly."

John Hume, his co-Nobel Peace Prize winner, struck back on behalf of Clinton, stating that she indeed did have a significant role in the peace process and her work in Northern Ireland.

It would probably be a lot better for Obama to have Hume or Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams in his camp on this issue rather than Trimble.

Trimble hardly helps with Irish American voters in Pennsylvania, for instance. A few years back when the Joe Doherty case was a boiling issue in the Irish American community, it showed up as an issue among Irish voters in the state during a heated Senate contest.

Clinton's Irish efforts will certainly do her no harm in the Keystone State on this occasion. The fact that her father hails from the major Irish center of Scranton is a big plus, too.