Gov.'s Wife: Brainy, Beautiful, Betrayed

New York State Gov. Eliot Spitzer is joined by his wife Silda as he makes a statement to reporters during a news conference Monday, March 10, 2008 in New York. Spitzer has apologized to his family and the public, but did not elaborate on a bombshell report that he was involved in a prostitution ring. AP

Silda Wall Spitzer appeared to have it all.

The Harvard Law School graduate succeeded as a hard-charging corporate lawyer, then raised three daughters and supported the ambitions of her husband, Eliot, as he became New York's attorney general and then governor.

On Wednesday, she was by his side when he announced that he is resigning, completing a spectacular fall from power for a politician whose once promising career imploded.

On Monday, she stood wordlessly by his side as he admitted to acting "in a way that violates my obligations to my family."

Fourteen months after Spitzer rode his reputation for clean politics into New York's highest office, he was linked to a federal investigation of a high-priced call-girl ring. He has not been charged, and prosecutors would not comment on the case.

People close to Eliot Spitzer said that when the news first broke, his wife pleaded with her husband not to give up the governorship, reports The New York Times. However, friends of the couple said that they initially believed Silda Wall Spitzer took the stance she did because she was not yet aware of the extent of the government's investigation.

While Spitzer accumulated enemies over his career as a prosecutor and politician, virtually no one has had a bad word to say about his wife, whose blond good looks and elegant style helped make them one of New York's premier power couples.

Assemblyman Charles Lavine, a Democrat from Long Island, noted that she was a hit at a recent Assembly luncheon at which she gave a talk about efforts to stimulate volunteerism.

"She was knowledgeable about the entire state, and she delivered a wonderful 35- to 40-minute presentation," he said.

Eliot Spitzer was born into wealth, the son of a New York real estate developer. His wife's background is more modest.

Silda Spitzer, 50, grew up in Concord, N.C., where her father was a hospital administrator. She attended Meredith College, a women's college in Raleigh, N.C., and went from there to Harvard Law School, where she met Spitzer, and to a career in mergers and acquisitions.

While at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, a prestigious New York law firm, she billed as many as 3,300 hours a year - more than nine hours a day, including weekends.

She married Spitzer, a fellow Harvard Law graduate, in 1987, and the couple have three daughters: Elyssa, 17, Sarabeth, 15, and Jenna, 13.

The three girls attend Horace Mann, the elite private school in the Riverdale section of the Bronx from which their father graduated. Elyssa is editor of the school newspaper.

The Spitzers divide their time between Albany, their main residence in Manhattan and a country home in upstate New York.

Since the mid-1990s, Silda Spitzer has been a stay-at-home mother and political spouse.

"I felt very conflicted and emotional about leaving my job," she told an interviewer from Vogue magazine last year. "It was not something I wanted to do, but I have never once doubted that it was the right decision for us. You don't want to give up your dreams, but you also have to confront the reality of your life. Ultimately, it was more important for me to have my family work."

In 1996 she founded a philanthropic organization called Children for Children that aims to involve young people in community service.

For a woman who formerly out-earned her husband, she has charted a fairly traditional course as first lady, leading a commission on community service and promoting a winter tourism campaign.

Instead of merely redecorating the governor's mansion, she led a "Greening the Mansion" campaign and called on first families around the country to implement environmentally conscious initiatives at their official residences.

Shortly before she became first lady, Silda Spitzer told an interviewer she had spoken with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton about how to maintain a private sphere for her family.

That privacy, if it existed, has been shattered.
  • CBSNews

Comments