New York state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer will make a run for the state’s highest office in 2006, his campaign confirmed Tuesday.
The two-term Democrat, whose investigations have redefined the role of public prosecutor, will seek to succeed Gov. George Pataki, a Republican.
“Right now, New York government is all about partisanship and gridlock,” Spitzer said in a statement. “We’re not doing the things we need to do to generate good paying jobs, safe neighborhoods and excellent schools. The system is broken. The state is facing a crisis.”
Pataki has served three four-year terms, but has yet to say if he will seek a fourth.
Since taking office in 1999, Spitzer has changed what was chiefly a consumer-oriented post and taken on the nation’s most powerful industries, including Wall Street.
In 2003, Spitzer agreed to a $1.4 billion settlement with Wall Street’s 10 biggest investment banks over tainted analyst research. As part of the reforms in that agreement, the firms agreed to tighten internal controls and to pay hundreds of millions of dollars for independent research for their clients.
Mutual fund firms such as Putnam Investments, a unit of Marsh & McLennan (MMC: news, chart, profile); Janus Capital Group (JNS: news, chart, profile); and Alliance Capital Management Holding (AC: news, chart, profile) agreed to pay as much $600 million in fines, lower fees and restitution.
The companies were also ordered or agreed to make internal reforms designed to create stronger board and company accountability, as well as transparency. Regulators put strict rules on the trading practices that led to the inquiry. What’s more, Spitzer forced firms to lower fees.
Spitzer, 44, is promising to bring the same zeal to the office.
“I bring people together whether they like it or not and we tackle complex problems — not with Band-Aid solutions, but with major reform and real change,” he said. “We did it in the financial industry and other sectors and we can do it in government.”
Spitzer’s crusades have taken him to Capitol Hill, where he has often criticized the federal government as inactive in enforcing regulations. In November, he testified about abuses in the insurance industry.