During a press conference, the group’s president, Tom
Donohue, was asked how the group would respond to
white-collar crime investigations, which some label as
“excessive”, according to the Associated Press (AP).
“He’s the investigator, the prosecutor, the judge, the
jury and the executioner,” Donohue said, according to the
news report. “Spitzer’s approach is to walk in and say,
`Well, we’re going to make a deal, and you’re going to pay
$600 million to the state and you’re going to get rid of
this person and that person and if you don’t do it by
tonight, then I’m going to indict the company.’ What does
indict the company mean? It means they’re going to put you
out of business,” he added.
The blistering critique comes shortly after Spitzer
announced he is running for governor in the Empire State in
2006. He has gained national attention in recent
years with investigations of the brokerage firm Merrill
Lynch, insurance broker Marsh & McLennan Cos. and a
number of other insurance firms (See
Spitzer Takes On Contingent
), former New York Stock Exchange Chairman Richard Grasso
Spitzer Slaps Former NYSE Head Grasso with
), as well as a wide-sweeping mutual fund probe (See
Spitzer Fund Abuse Probe Pumps Out More
Donohue added that Spitzer’s methods went beyond the bounds of admirable law enforcement work. “It’s the most egregious and unacceptable form of intimidation that we have seen in this country in modern time,” he said, according to the AP.
The group – which represents about three million
businesses – says it would oppose regulators who have
misused white-collar laws to criminalize honest mistakes.
Spitzer’s office responded to the attack by claiming that Donahue was missing the point. “The chamber should be a proponent of high standards,” responded Spitzer’s spokesman, Darren Dopp to the AP. “Instead, Mr. Donohue is attacking the one person who has done the most to level the playing field for honest business. His comments are misinformed and unfortunate.”