Kristin Davis contrived to become known as Eliot Spitzer’s madam and then sought further attention by challenging the disgraced former governor in his redemptive bid for New York City comptroller.
But the celebrity she so energetically sought seemed to have suddenly become a curse as she faced a media mob outside Manhattan federal court on Tuesday, after being arraigned on drug charges.
She was holding papers she had been given upon being released on bail and she put them up in an effort to shield her face from the cameras she had once so ardently solicited.
“Kristin!” her lawyer called to her.
He motioned her to his side.
“Let them take your picture,” he said.
The lawyer, Daniel Hochheiser, clearly figured that the cameras would leave her alone once they got their shot and she endured it, looking as if she would rather be doing almost anything else. The lawyer was proved wrong as she then tried to continue on. The mob stayed with her until she reached the street and managed to get to a cab.
“Does this affect the race?” a reporter called out along the way.
She climbed inside without saying a word and was about to depart when Hochheiser called out a second time and stuck his head inside, asking if she had any money. She apparently did not, as he took out his wallet and handed some to the driver before the cab drove away.
Davis has said she started out working at a hedge fund, and if she had stayed in the financial world she might not only have had cab fare—she might have been able to do things like bilk customers of untold millions and jeopardize the global economy without any serious worry of landing in prison.
Just consider the case of Fabrice “Fabulous Fab” Tourre, who was found liable last week on six counts of civil securities fraud involving more than $1 billion. He had left the same courthouse with half a smile and a shrug because it was only a civil case, entailing no criminal penalties.
But by Davis’s own account, she had left high finance to become a madam. And her dealing in degenerates rather than derivatives had led to her spending four months in jail in 2008 for promoting prostitution.
A kind of salvation came when Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned that year after admitting he had patronized prostitutes. Scandal became shame—as state attorney general, Spitzer had displayed prosecutorial delight in busting a Staten Island prostitution ring and, as governor, he had just signed a bill increasing penalties for johns.
All Davis had to do was suggest that the shamed governor had been one of her clients. Presto! A woman who was just another female pimp became known as Eliot Spitzer’s madam.
Spitzer denied it, and law enforcement said that in this instance anyway, they had no reason to believe he was lying. But no matter what the truth, Davis remained a kind of celebrity madam, or apparently ex-madam, her time behind bars on Rikers Island having been not at all to her liking.
As Spitzer seemed to fade mercifully from the public consciousness, Davis was in danger of slipping back into obscurity. She sought to arouse what attention she could by running for governor as the most libertine of libertarians. She soon became a joke that had been too often told and was not really so entertaining even when new.
Then salvation again came in the person of Spitzer, when he announced that he was running for city comptroller. Davis also declared herself a candidate for the post.
“This is going to be the funnest campaign ever,” she told the New York Daily News.
She said she had been waiting five years to face Spitzer and decried the unfairness of her landing in jail for running an escort service while he had escaped any punishment for using one.
“The hypocrisy is huge,” she said.
That was incontestably so, but it bothered her a lot more than it seemed to bother the voters. Spitzer immediately became the leading candidate, elbowing aside poor Scott Stringer, who is so decent he had no big scandal to make him instantly recognizable, no grossly hypocritical transgressions for the public to forgive.
And if Spitzer was on the way to being forgiven, that meant Davis was on the way to being forgotten. Davis had the added problem of making a living, as being a media whore pays considerably less than being a madam.
Had she been able to go back to the financial world, Davis might have participated in any number of nefarious and obscenely lucrative schemes while hazarding nothing more serious than a fine. But rather than conspire to fleece clueless customers, as did Fabulous Fab, she allegedly sold prescription drugs to an FBI informant on three occasions.
“If you run low, let me know,” she is said to have texted her customer.
She allegedly arranged a sale on a fourth occasion, though she apparently avoided being more than an intermediary because it involved Oxycodone, which is highly addictive and can draw serious prison time. She was recorded by the FBI saying on the phone that she would walk the supplier into the customer’s apartment, “but I will not stay.”
“The only reason I’m still involved ... is because I want to help you out,” she said according to a transcript in the criminal complaint.
She was right to be cautious, but she was not cautious enough. As a result, she was arrested on Monday by FBI agents who might have had more important things to do if she had not so determinedly made herself a high-profile person.
A gaggle of reporters was waiting when she was brought into the arraignment part at Manhattan federal court late Tuesday afternoon. She who had in the past hammed it up for the press ducked her head as she scooted into the defendant’s chair wearing a black sweater, gray pants, and black flats, her usually showy platinum tresses cinched back in a ponytail.
Those who never landed in this chair, where criminal defendants begin their journey to judgment, include not only Fabulous Fab, but John Paulson, the hedge fund tycoon who is said to have made more than $1 billion on that same hustle. Nor did anyone from Fab’s employer, Goldman Sachs.
“United States versus Kirstin Davis,” a clerk then announced.
Her lawyer, Hochheiser, told the judge that he also had represented Davis in an earlier case without saying it was for promoting prostitution. He reported that Davis never failed to make her court dates.
“She always makes appointments,” Hochheiser said.
He asked that while free on bail Davis be allowed to visit her mother in California.
“Which she does on relatively regular occasion,” the lawyer noted.
The judge agreed to free Davis on $100,000 personal bond. The release papers the clerk’s office gave her did little to shield her from the cameras waiting outside for Spitzer’s madam.
That’s what she gets for leaving high finance, where you almost never get punished even on those rare occasions you get caught.
Davis is scheduled to be back in court on Sept. 5, five days before the Democratic primary, which Spitzer seems likely to win.