Could Spitzer Be Charged Under the Mann Act?

One of the more interesting aspects of the Spitzer prostitution scandal is the possibly of a charge under the Mann Act. It is quite a difference for the governor. Under the Mann Act, he could be looking at 20 years while under the D.C. law it would be only 90 days.

The Mann Act makes it illegal to persuade or induce an individual to cross state lines for the purpose of prostitution. It is rarely used against “johns”, but it can technically be used against Spitzer. It has been used in past celebrity cases, click here.

The district law allows for only 90 days for a first offender.


§ 22-2701. Engaging in prostitution or soliciting for prostitution.

It is unlawful for any person to engage in prostitution or to solicit for prostitution. The penalties for violation of this section shall be a fine of $500 or not more than 90 days imprisonment, or both, for the first offense, a fine of $750 or not more than 135 days imprisonment, or both, for the second offense, and a fine of $1,000 or not more than 180 days imprisonment, or both, for the third and each subsequent offense.

Given the reports that New York Governor Eliot Spitzer was heard on a wiretap arranging for a prostitute to travel from New York to Washington to meet in his hotel room, it appears that he has violated the Mann Act. This federal law carries a penalty of up to 20 years imprisonment for knowingly persuading or inducing any individual to cross state lines for the purposes of prostitution. Governor Spitzer also appears to have violated District of Columbia law, making it unlawful for any person to engage in prostitution or to solicit for prostitution. This is punishable by up to 90 days in jail, or a fine of up to $500, or both, for the first offense.

It appears, however, that there are allegations of money laundering, but it is not clear that Spitzer was allegedly involved in such activities. There is also the danger that he may have given false statements to investigators or acted in a way that could result in obstruction charges. Finally, this conduct could be the based for an impeachment proceeding unless, as expected, he resigns.

35 thoughts on “Could Spitzer Be Charged Under the Mann Act?”

  1. Reread. The word ‘sans’ in French means ‘without’ FISA…

    Secondly, Monica Goodling even admitted having “crossed the line”, politically, when screening candidates for DOJ legal staff positions, which is illegal, and which is also why she was first advised to take the 5th before testifying and was then given immunity.

  2. I wish I had the wonderful contacts,even if they are supernatural capabilities akin to ESP or contact with the netherworlds, that some of us here have, insofar as determining that this was accomplished through the FISA act. Aside from that, it would appear that this may be almost as embarrassing for the Justice Department as for Spitzer. I’d sure hate to bring the details of this investigation in front of Mukasey, as he will have heads rolling if this was a fishing expedition about sex, or a politically based prosecution ……ask anyone who knows anything about him. On another note, regarding the supposed U.S. Attorney firings, one has to keep in mind that the congress has no authority to hire or fire U.S. attorneys. They are POLITICAL appointees who serve at the president’s pleasure. Rational people could conclude from that the Congress has no authority in the first place, to investigate the firings, but congress has essentially turned this into theatre that many have bought, hook, line, and sinker. Congress has historically sought to continually expand their “oversight” capabilities over the executive branch. What we are seeing is classical congressional overreaching, and mark my words that the courts will strike down the contempt, and subpeonas of this congressional committee. Of course congress will do some judge shopping and win the first round, but when it reaches the Supreme Court, it will be struck down.

  3. Spitzer’s “service provider” ran an ad on the Huffington Post!

    The service, according to a Web ad that ran on the Huffington Post, was reserved “for a select group of educated, refined and successful international clients.” Spitzer met that standard.

    “All rendezvous,” the ad boasted, “are individually-crafted to service the needs of your specific occasion.”

  4. Market up 400 points today. Spitzer was apparently a one man Bear Market. Thank GOD he has been effectively castrated now from hurting the stock markets any more.

  5. Spitzer needs to RESIGN now and the excuse making here has to stop.

  6. No s***, Sherlock… 😉

    He pissed off a LOT of people on Wall Steet, like AIG’s Hank Greenberg, and notable others, elsewhere…

    And I didn’t know he went to school with Jim Cramer, who is/was a
    big Romney fan.

    “Spitzer used a New York statute to allow his office to prosecute cases which have been described as within federal jurisdiction.[7][8] In January 2005, the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce described Spitzer’s approach as “the most egregious and unacceptable form of intimidation we’ve seen in this country in modern times”.[9]”

  7. “But back to Spitzer, prosecutorial discretion is not as important in Spitzer’s case as the motives behind the prosecutors. What triggered this investigation? Was it an IRS referral?”

    I just caught a glimpse of saw Alan Dershowitz on MSNBC. He said that ‘every criminal attorney he knows thinks the IRS/Banking investigation is a front;’ and that they ‘smell a rat.’

    Personally I wouldn’t be surprised if this gem turned up during data mining sans FISA and thence handed over on a ‘Silver Platter’ albeit under the table.

  8. Thanks Patty C.

    My read is that Bolton’s documents are covered, Meirs’ non-appearance is not.


  9. Bob Esq.,

    Thank you for bringing up the civil action. There might be a thread on that one of these days….

    But back to Spitzer, prosecutorial discretion is not as important in Spitzer’s case as the motives behind the prosecutors. What triggered this investigation? Was it an IRS referral? Why is the Public Integrity Section of the DOJ so heavily involved? This is not to excuse the immoral and stupid governor. But something isn’t right here.

  10. Wooooooooohooooooooo -I love it!

    “…William Branigin writes in The Washington Post: “The committee’s action marked the first time in U.S. history that either chamber of Congress has sued the Executive Branch to enforce a subpoena, according to a spokesman for the House Judiciary Committee. . . .

    “White House spokeswoman Dana Perino accused the committee of engaging in ‘partisan theater.’

    “She told reporters, ‘The confidentiality that the president receives from his senior advisers and the constitutional principle of separation of powers must be protected from overreaching, and we are confident that the courts will agree with us.'”

    Neil A. Lewis writes in the New York Times: “Prof. Orin S. Kerr, a constitutional scholar at George Washington University, said the case would raise fresh issues.

    “The Supreme Court first formally recognized the notion of executive privilege in 1974, but the court also said it could be overcome in some circumstances like a criminal investigation.

    “There has been no ruling about whether such a privilege outweighs a request by Congress for White House information to perform its oversight of the executive branch. In the handful of cases since then, the White House has reached compromises with Congress or others.”…

  11. “[It] is very likely that the examples of Eliot’s own record of the exercise of like discretion over the past decade will be scrutinized by his antagonists.”

    Prosecutorial discretion will undoubtedly be determined by the political gain, if any, that could be achieved by prosecuting Spitzer. Professor Turley would be the best to ask about this, but in the absence of a prosecutor hard up for recognition, I fail to see anyone prosecuting this case without risking being dragged down by the [potential] three ring circus created by the trial.

  12. And here’s a tad more interesting story taking a back seat to the Spitzer scandal:

    Playing Constitutional Chicken

    Trying to avoid setting a new precedent for legislative toothlessness, the House yesterday filed a civil suit against the Bush White House, requesting that a federal judge enforce subpoenas seeking information about the controversial firings of U.S. attorneys.

    In the latest chapter of what has turned into a fairly momentous Constitutional standoff, it will be up to the judicial branch to determine whether the legislative branch can exercise any meaningful oversight over the White House — or whether the White House can simply opt out at will.

  13. To Bob and the lawyers, I am not sure, but I think that a misdemeanor indictment would have to be returned by a grand jury in the DC Superior Court. By a local quirk, the DC Assistant US Attorneys present the cases to these grand juries. So the federal prosecutors have full control of this threat as an arrow in their quiver.

    Ironically, the central issue at midday Tuesday is prosecutorial discretion, with tremendous power now lodged in the hands of the Justice Department.

    tt is very likely that the examples of Eliot’s own record of the exercise of like discretion over the past decade will be scrutinized by his antagonists.

  14. Mespo727272
    What’s a fine and suspended jail time going to accomplish?

    NOTHING! As far as I’m concerned, anyway. His resignation would be enough for me, if it turns out to be true, and it seems to me that to use the Mann Act against Gov. Spitzer, which I understand carries a maximum of 20 years in prison, would be an act of malicious prosecution. I do not agree with the current mindset of using draconian prison sentences to punish people who have not inflicted (or are accused of inflicting) murder, or any kind of physical injury or harm to anyone. Just my opinion, though, which I know many will disagree with.

  15. Is this a trick question? Because the District of Columbia isn’t heading up the investigation.

    Per Federal conviction under the Mann Act; the case would have to rely heavily on the passive language of the statute regarding “induce” & “entice.”

    It appears that the case could be made technically; however the mere idea of sentencing someone to twenty years for soliciting a prostitute brings jury nullification to mind.



  16. I suspect a fall from grace (damn! why couldn’t he be the mayor of NYC and then I could have said “Gracie Mansion”) would be enough to satisfy the lords of the DOJ. What’s a fine and suspended jail time going to accomplish? Thomas Adams had it right when he said: “The ambitious climbs up high and perilous stairs, and never cares how to come down; the desire of rising hath swallowed up his fear of a fall.” Ambition is a jealous, stupefying, and fickle mistress.

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