Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer is back in the news and it could not be more bizarre. This week Spitzer was accused of allegedly threatening to stab a restaurant patron’s crotch for stating that he respected Spitzer’s nemesis, Home Depot founder Kenneth Langone. Jamie Antolini says that Spitzer yelled “I’ll get a f**king knife and stab you right in your f**king cock!” Spitzer resigned as Attorney General after disclosure of his patronage of high-end prostitutes.
Antolini said that he drew the ire of Spitzer by saying Langone was an “amazing guy” and that “Ken Langone should have been president.” He said that after Spitzer said he would stab Antolini in the cock, Spitzer left but came back to the table to make additional abusive comments.
Restaurant security was reportedly called and Antolini says that there is a videotape. Lisa Linden, Spitzer’s spokeswoman, said that Spitzer was out for this mother’s 90th birthday and that it was Antolini making the aggressive remarks. She denies Spitzer made any threats.
The most surprising confirmed fact? Eliott Spitzer still has a spokesperson.
Spitzer was a liberal icon in New York and viewed as something of an avenging angel of the left. After his demise, friends in the media and business worked to try to rehabilitate him. He was given a series of jobs and media gigs at CNN and MSNBC. He tried and failed to win the primary for city comptroller in 2013. Then in 2016, Spitzer was accused of assaulting a young woman in a $1000 a night hotel room. Spitzer was already under investigation after he was accused of choking a Russian woman at the Plaza Hotel.
Svetlana Zakharova Travis, 25, has been identified by New York media as a $5000 a night prostitute who previously wrote about her work as a call girl, including an article entitled “Sex is Sex, but Money is Money.” However, Travis later recanted her charge against Spitzer after fleeing to Russia. She was then arrested at JFK International Airport on charges of grand larceny by extortion. Prosecutors claim that Spitzer paid her roughly $50,000 to keep secret certain “intimate details” of their relationship. Travis also faced later forgery and identity theft charges. What was most damaging from the Travis affair was the indication that Spitzer may be continuing the pattern of self-destructive and potentially illegal conduct with prostitutes that led to his resignation.
The latest controversy will likely turn on that videotape. There could be a basis for assault charges if these allegations are correct. However, as shown in the Travis matter, it is important to not jump to assumptions about Spitzer’s culpability. The Plaza incident reflects how celebrities like Spitzer are under a constant public lens. We have not heard from the other witnesses on whether Andolini was being rude and taunting Spitzer as the later was trying to have a dinner with his mother. The only thing that we know fo sure is that clearly someone is lying.
As for the possible charges, this could be assault in torts but in criminal law it would likely be charged as something like public disorder or menacing as shown below (which can be a felony or a misdemeanor). Given the fact that no weapon is alleged to have been brandished, it would seem at best a weak misdemeanor case (and one that I would view as unnecessary):
S 120.14 Menacing in the second degree. A person is guilty of menacing in the second degree when: 1. He or she intentionally places or attempts to place another person in reasonable fear of physical injury, serious physical injury or death by displaying a deadly weapon, dangerous instrument or what appears to be a pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, machine gun or other firearm; or 2. He or she repeatedly follows a person or engages in a course of conduct or repeatedly commits acts over a period of time intentionally placing or attempting to place another person in reasonable fear of physical injury, serious physical injury or death; or 3. He or she commits the crime of menacing in the third degree in violation of that part of a duly served order of protection, or such order which the defendant has actual knowledge of because he or she was present in court when such order was issued, pursuant to article eight of the family court act, section 530.12 of the criminal procedure law, or an order of protection issued by a court of competent jurisdiction in another state, territorial or tribal jurisdiction, which directed the respondent or defendant to stay away from the person or persons on whose behalf the order was issued. Menacing in the second degree is a class A misdemeanor. S 120.15 Menacing in the third degree. A person is guilty of menacing in the third degree when, by physical menace, he or she intentionally places or attempts to place another person in fear of death, imminent serious physical injury or physical injury.