WASHINGTON (CNN) - Federal agents have determined New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer used a high-priced call-girl ring at least eight times in recent months, and agents had him under surveillance twice this year, sources familiar with the investigation said Wednesday.
Spitzer announced his resignation Wednesday, two days after reports of his connection to the Emperors Club VIP became public.
He has not been charged with a crime.
He told reporters Wednesday, "I cannot allow my private failings to disrupt the people's work."
The resignation will take effect Monday. Watch Spitzer resign »
The sources said the investigation began when New York's North Fork Bank notified the Treasury Department about suspicious transfers of money from Spitzer's bank accounts. That investigation led agents to the alleged organizers of the prostitution ring, four of whom were charged in a criminal complaint last week, the sources said.
A grand jury in New York is likely to hear evidence in the case soon, said Kathleen Mullin, an attorney who said she represents one of the ring's employees. Mullin would not identify her client, but said she was not the woman identified only as "Kristen" linked to Spitzer in court papers.
She said her client and other women who worked for the Emperors Club have been asked to testify before the grand jury.
Asked if her client had any encounters with Spitzer, Mullin said, "We have no information regarding the governor."
Wiretaps on suspected members of the ring, authorized in January, yielded more than 5,000 telephone calls and text messages and another 6,000-plus e-mails, according to court papers. In those intercepts, the organizers told clients how to arrange and pay for their trysts, a federal agent's affidavit states.
The affidavit identified clients by number, with Spitzer designated "Client 9," a source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN this week. Sources familiar with the investigation said federal authorities Wednesday were trying to clamp down on leaks of the investigation's details. See a timeline of the investigation »
The affidavit states "Client 9" paid $4,300 for 2½ hours with a call girl he arranged to meet at Washington's Mayflower Hotel, with some of that a deposit on a future session. Court papers state he also paid for train tickets, cab fare, mini-bar and room service charges for Kristen - a 5-foot-5, 105-pound brunette he arranged to meet the night of February 13.
Kristen is a 22-year-old would-be singer from New Jersey, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
The newspaper said Ashley Youmans - now known as Ashley Alexandra Dupre - was identified in court documents as Kristen.
(CNN) – Geraldine Ferraro has stepped down from her role as a member of Hillary Clinton's finance committee.
In a letter to Clinton obtained by CNN's Suzanne Malveaux - who spoke with the former vice presidential candidate shortly after she sent it to Clinton - Ferraro said she is stepping down so, "I can speak for myself and you can continue to speak for yourself about what is at stake in this campaign."
In a phone conversation with Malveaux, Ferraro said she was not asked to step down by Senator Clinton or her campaign.
Ferraro said thousands of people are part of the finance committee, saying it is not a staff position, but a voluntary one for those who raise money for the campaign. She also said she has raised $125,000 for Senator Clinton.
When asked if she had any regrets about what she said, Ferraro replied, "absolutely not."
"I am who I am and I will continue to speak up," she said. She added that she thought it was a shame that the Obama campaign was trying to block her First Amendment rights, and that she felt that was no way to conduct a campaign.
She said, "it's not me slicing and dicing," a reference to Obama's comments earlier in the day accusing Ferraro of dividing the party.
(CNN) – Jack Kevorkian, the assisted suicide advocate currently on parole from prison, is planning a run for Congress, a Detroit newspaper reported Wednesday.
According to the Oakland Press, Kevorkian is planning to mount an independent bid in Michigan's 9th District seat currently occupied by Republican Joe Knollenberg.
"We need some honesty and sincerity instead of corrupt government in Washington," Kevorkian told the paper. He also said his plans are in the "formative stage" and he would make a formal announcement next week.
Nate Bailey, a spokesman for Knollenberg, told CNN "the congressman is working on turning Michigan’s economy around and bringing jobs to Oakland County...He’s focused on working for the people of Oakland County, not on politics."
The one-time pathologist needs to gather 3,000 signatures in order to appear on the ballot as an independent candidate.
Kevorkian has said he has helped well over 100 people die during the 1990s. In 1998, he was formally convicted on second degree homicide for assisting in the death of Thomas Youk, who suffered from Lou Gehrig's disease.
He was released from prison on parole in June.
Oakland County Prosecutor Dave Gorcyca, who was responsible for sending Kevorkian to jail, told the paper he thinks the candidacy is merely a "publicity stunt."
CNN has been unable to get a comment from Kevorkian.
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
(CNN) - John McCain better get used to seeing AFL-CIO members at his campaign events.
The major labor organization launched a $53 million campaign Wednesday that takes direct aim at presumptive Republican presidential nominee and includes union protesters following him every step of the way as he campaigns for the White House.
"Everywhere John McCain goes in the coming months, union activists will be there to confront him on his economic positions and plans and demand that he speaks to working families' concerns," Karen Ackerman, the AFL-CIO's political director, said during a conference call.
The protests are part of a wide-ranging and unprecedented grassroots effort that will include mobilization efforts, direct mailings, e-mail, and a just-launched anti-McCain Web site.
The effort, called "McCain Revealed," aims to educate voters on the Arizona Republican senator's record, which the labor group says has been consistently anti-working families. It will consist of activity in 23 states and reach 13 million voters, Ackerman said.
“It’s clear that John McCain hopes to conduct his campaign without ever having to explain his economic priorities to working people,” Ackerman also said. “Public opinion polls show the economy is the top concern of voters, yet Sen. McCain has said very little about his economic positions and, as a result, working families know very little about where he stands on pocketbook concerns. That all changes today.”
A Republican National Committee spokesman called on both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to denounce the AFL-CIO's efforts, saying it would be consistent with both senators' denunciations of special interest groubs.
“The AFL-CIO’s campaign against John McCain clearly demonstrates their priorities lie in attack politics as opposed to focusing on American families," RNC spokesman Alex Conant said. "Voters looking for something new will find it in John McCain’s campaign to help working families – not the AFL-CIO’s partisan attacks"
The labor organization - consisting of 56 member unions - could not agree on a presidential candidate to endorse this cycle and has allowed each of its members to make individual endorsements. So far, Clinton edges out Obama among endorsements from AFL-CIO members.
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Capitol Police arrested at least two anti-war demonstrators in the Senate gallery Wednesday after they interrupted the chamber's proceedings to demand an end to the war in Iraq.
The demonstrators - dressed in black pants and shirts with white veils over their heads - proclaimed themselves "ghosts of the Iraq war." They called on senators to cut off funding for the widely unpopular conflict, now nearly five years old.
They began their protest as Arkansas Democrat Blanche Lincoln was calling for an additional $50 billion for the Veterans Benefits Administration to speed services for troops returning from combat. The Senate was forced to adjourn briefly as police removed the demonstrators.
"Hopefully, the passionate pleas we make here on the floor of the Senate can be seen as passionate as many we witness - some here today, and certainly others," Lincoln said after the chamber resumed business.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Right after Barack Obama won the Mississippi Democratic Primary, I had a chance to speak with him. Two points that he made stand out in my mind: 1) that he’s open to possibly having Hillary Clinton serve as his vice presidential running mate; and 2) that he believes there eventually will be make-over Democratic contests in both Michigan and Florida.
“Senator Clinton,” he told me, “is a very capable person, and, as I’ve said before, she’d be on anybody’s short list.”
That certainly doesn’t mean he would ask her to join his ticket - but it does mean he’s clearly not ruling it out.
She seems to have gone further in recent days, hinting that she would ask him to serve as her Vice Presidential running mate. Bill Clinton has made a similar point.
All this is happening despite the increasingly nasty exchanges that have been hurled against each other. Obama told me that he was “confident” that once the Democratic contest was resolved, “the party is going to be unified” in the battle against John McCain. An Obama-Clinton or Clinton-Obama ticket, many Democrats believe, would go a long way toward uniting the party.
On the make-over contests in Florida and Michigan, Obama expressed some concern about the logistics for another election. Will, for example, a mail-in ballot work? But he noted that conversations were currently underway between the campaigns and the Democratic National Committee. “I’m sure it will get sorted out,” he said.
Bottom line: get ready for the Michigan and Florida make-over elections in June – after the last scheduled contest in Puerto Rico, now expected to take place on June 1.
–CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer
Now that the Mississippi primaries are over, there is a pause in what seems like the never-ending campaign.
It's been more than a year since this all started, and it seems much longer. We've been bludgeoned with thousands of hours of news reports, dozens of primaries and caucuses, millions of flyers and tv ads, dozens of debates, never ending speeches and on and on.
But now we actually get a bit of a respite, with six weeks to go until the April 22nd Pennsylvania primary.
Now, the good people of Pennsylvania will likely grow to hate the whole process in the next six weeks because there is little else for the candidates to do but inflict themselves on those poor folks. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will eventually come to be looked upon as guests who just don't know when it's time to leave.
To read more and contribute to the Cafferty File discussion click here
(CNN) - Barack Obama’s presidential campaign manager said Wednesday Hillary Clinton’s campaign had “waved the white flag” in what he said was a potential fall battleground state.
The Clinton campaign responded that Obama’s team was looking to divert focus from the upcoming Pennsylvania primary, where the New York senator has held a significant advantage in most recent polls.
They have pointed out that many of the states that Obama has won by large margins during the primary process are not states the Democratic Party is likely to carry this fall, with senior adviser Harold Ickes telling the New York Times Wednesday that Obama’s victories there would be “virtually irrelevant to the general election.”
On a conference call with reporters, Plouffe did look to lower expectations in Pennsylvania. “We do not view this as a race now solely about the state of Pennsylvania,” he said, adding that the Clinton campaign was “the prohibitive favorite. They should win by a healthy margin given where they start.
“We’ll campaign hard there, we’ll try and get as many votes and delegates as we can, but our campaign will not be defined by Pennsylvania.”
He added that that the Clinton campaign’s contention that a Democrat could not win a fall bout in North Carolina – a state where Obama is expected to do well when primary voters head to the polls in May – “speaks to their weakness in the general election.
“We think we can win the state of North Carolina. Clinton has already waved the white flag... North Carolina will be a central battleground if Obama is our nominee," said Plouffe. The campaign also released an assessment of Obama’s general election chances in some of the biggest states.
Clinton campaign spokesman Phil Singer immediately responded: “The path to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue goes through Pennsylvania. So if Barack Obama can’t win there, how will he win the general election?”
– CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand
"I do think there's real questions about the mail-in option here," Plouffe said on a conference call with reporters. "These are very complicated elections to put on. In the state of Oregon which is kind of the standard for this, it took well over 10 years to get comfortable doing this statewide, to have signature verification in place, lots of alternatives for people to vote in person, there's questions around the list, both of these states have justice department review, that would need to take place, so there's a lot of questions."
The mail-in proposal is being strongly advocated by some leading Democrats including Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, who has said that it is the only reasonable and affordable option available to the state. Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean has also expressed support for a mail-in vote as one way to allow the state’s delegation to be seated at the party’s national convention this summer.
"Every voter gets a ballot in the mail. It's comprehensive. You get to vote if you're in Iraq or in a nursing home," he said on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday.
But a majority of the Florida’s Democratic delegation said in a statement Tuesday night they oppose both a primary re-vote and vote-by-mail.
"We are committed to working with the DNC, the Florida State Democratic party, our Democratic leaders in Florida, and our two candidates to reach an expedited solution that ensures our 210 delegates are seated," the delegation's statement read. "Our House delegation is opposed to a mail-in campaign or any redo of any kind."
Speaking with reporters Tuesday, Plouffe said the campaign will ultimately follow the DNC's resolution with regards to seating the delegates. But he sharply criticized the Clinton campaign for "trying to change the rules."
"Senator Clinton said she was playing by the rules through the early sates, we played by the rules," he said. "Now when they believe it serves their political interests, they're trying to change the rules and say these elections should count for something. We think that's the kind of political maneuvering and calculation that voters are tired of."
Responding to Plouffe's comments, the Clinton campaign noted that the Illinois senator co-sponsored a bill last June that "would establish a vote by mail grant program."
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
(CNN) – An unapologetic Geraldine Ferraro said Wednesday morning that her comments about the electoral impact of Barack Obama's race have been taken out of context, and that she stands by her words.
Ferraro stirred controversy with her recent remarks that Obama's campaign was successful because he was black.
"It wasn't a racist comment, it was a statement of fact," she said on CBS' Early Show, adding that she would leave Hillary Clinton's national finance committee if she were asked, but would not stop raising money for the New York senator's presidential bid. She also blamed Obama's chief strategist, David Axelrod, for misinterpreting her remarks.
Ferraro also told ABC's Good Morning America that "every time" someone makes a negative comment about Obama, they are accused of racism.
Late Tuesday, she told interviewer that she felt she was being attacked because she was white.
"Any time anybody does anything that in any way pulls this campaign down and says let's address reality and the problems we're facing in this world, you're accused of being racist, so you have to shut up," she told the (Torrance, California) Daily Breeze. "Racism works in two different directions. I really think they're attacking me because I'm white. How's that?"
Related: Watch a clip of Ferraro's interview with Diane Sawyer
– CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand