The Greatest Of All Time

The Spitzer legacy just gets better and better:

Employees of a California law firm whose donations were spurned on ethical grounds and then re-solicited by the campaign of Eliot Spitzer are fuming over what they say is the former governor’s hypocrisy and his campaign’s vague answers about whether and when they might get their money back, according to correspondence obtained by The New York Sun.

A host of donors to Mr. Spitzer’s defunct re-election bid are said to be seeking refunds after the former prosecutor was linked to a prostitution ring last month and quickly resigned as governor.

Lawyers at Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins LLP, which is based in San Diego and has an office in Manhattan, feel they have a particularly compelling claim.

In 2006, Mr. Spitzer’s team returned more than $17,000 in donations from the firm and its employees after it became clear prosecutors were homing in on William Lerach, who was a founder of Lerach Coughlin, as it was known at the time. The refund checks were dated a day after a Los Angeles grand jury indicted two of Lerach’s partners at his former firm, Milberg Weiss, as part of a conspiracy involving secret payments to plaintiffs in securities cases.

Although Lerach’s new firm was never implicated in the scheme, Mr. Spitzer’s committee sent back all money connected with both firms, including $35,000 from Milberg Weiss and $7,500 from Lerach Coughlin. Spitzer 2006 also returned about $10,000 to Lerach Coughlin employees and was so meticulous that it even refunded a $25 gift from an administrative assistant at the firm.

“In light of recent events, the Spitzer campaign has decided that we must return any and all contributions made by employees of and/or the firms of Milberg Weiss and Lerach Coughlin,” an assistant treasurer for Spitzer 2006, Sasha Soreff, wrote in letters accompanying the refunds.

Yet within days after Lerach quit the new firm and entered a guilty plea in the criminal case last year, Mr. Spitzer’s finance officials were back in contact with Coughlin Stoia, seeking not only new contributions, but also makeup gifts for the money refunded a year earlier, according to two sources close to the firm.

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