Spitzer's NYSE suit prompts opposing media initiatives

NEW YORK: Opposing media campaigns are under way in New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's high-profile lawsuit. The suit was filed May 24 against the New York Stock Exchange, its former chairman and CEO, Richard Grasso, and former NYSE board member Kenneth Langone.

NEW YORK: Opposing media campaigns are under way in New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's high-profile lawsuit. The suit was filed May 24 against the New York Stock Exchange, its former chairman and CEO, Richard Grasso, and former NYSE board member Kenneth Langone.

New York-based PR firm Starkman & Associates is representing Grasso. McCarthy Communications of Washington is working with Langone.

Capping a high profile, four-month investigation, the civil suit seeks to rescind more than $100 million of Grasso's $187.5 million pay package awarded to him by the compensation committee.

Grasso fired a salvo Tuesday against Spitzer with a strongly worded Op-Ed in The Wall Street Journal.

Spitzer had not named former New York State Comptroller Carl McCall in the lawsuit, Grasso pointed out in the piece. McCall was chairman of the NYSE's compensation committee, which awarded Grasso his big pay package. Instead of McCall, Spitzer sued Langone, who also signed off on Grasso's compensation.

But McCall was off-limits, Grasso contended, because he's a powerful figure in state Democratic circles, and Spitzer has further political ambitions.

"Mr. Spitzer is running for governor, and running hard" Grasso wrote. "And, he badly needs the support of Mr. McCall."

Spitzer's office brushed off the charge, preferring to focus on a possible trial.

"We're confident of the facts we marshaled in our case, and we look forward to the trial," Spitzer communications director Darren Dopp said in an e-mail to PRWeek.

Grasso said in a statement hours after the lawsuit's filing that he'd done nothing wrong. "I'm disappointed that New York's attorney general has chosen to intervene in what amounts to be a commercial dispute between my former employer and me," Grasso said.

The NYSE, which helped bring Grasso's compensation to Spitzer's attention, was decidedly more muted than Grasso in its reaction to the lawsuit.

"We are supportive of Attorney General Spitzer's efforts in this matter," read a statement posted on the NYSE's website after the suit was filed several blocks away in State Supreme Court. "As a named party, it would be inappropriate to comment further."

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