As attorney general, he sent his lawyers to do battle on behalf of the disadvantaged, but hired mostly Harvard and Yale law-school graduates. His family's millions have funded his election campaigns, but he has worn the same pair of shoes for years, even as water seeped through holes in their soles.
His father grew up on Manhattan's Lower East Side in a tenement with no hot water. Bernard Spitzer, now in his 80s, made a real-estate fortune that provided his three children with every advantage, but he put them to work early. He sent 7-year-old Eliot to his construction sites and had him scrape concrete from the foundations of high-rise apartments along Manhattan's Central Park South.
Working the Room
Mr. Spitzer's ability to play insider and outsider simultaneously was on display in 2003 during a clash with mutual-fund companies. In a meeting of the New York Society of Securities Analysts in the ornate dining room of the Harvard Club, the attorney general mingled with financial executives, seemingly in his element working the crowded room.
But when he took the podium to give the luncheon speech, his tone changed. He lashed out against mutual funds and brokerage firms for abusing the "little investor" and warned that executives would go to jail for the trading scandals he's prosecuting. A beeper went off, and he flashed his pager, like a cop brandishing a gun. "My beeper goes off every time we indict someone," Mr. Spitzer joked.
Few of the securities-industry officials in the audience laughed.
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