On the same day former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer moved closer Friday to securing a spot on the ballot in the race for city comptroller, one of his wealthy enemies on Wall Street sued him for defamation and signaled plans to get involved in the race.
Former American International Group Inc. (AIG) Chairman and Chief Executive Maurice "Hank" Greenberg filed a lawsuit Friday detailing what he said were defamatory statements Mr. Spitzer made against him between 2004 and 2012, according to the lawsuit.
The two men have been at odds since Mr. Spitzer served as state attorney general and accused Mr. Greenberg of committing fraud in an attempt to boost AIG's financial results. Mr. Greenberg stepped down from AIG but has denied wrongdoing and continued to fight the case in court.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Spitzer declined to comment.
The legal complaint reads as a history of their fights from Mr. Greenberg's perspective. It alleges "a defamatory campaign" by Mr. Spitzer against Mr. Greenberg that resulted in headlines, not legal victories. It includes a 2012 interview in which the New York Law Journal reported that Mr. Spitzer said Mr. Greenberg had run AIG in a "crooked" and "corrupt" way. It also references the prostitution scandal that led Mr. Spitzer to resign the governorship, alleging "numerous acts of moral turpitude." The suit also lists Mr. Greenberg's philanthropic contributions.
A senior adviser to Mr. Greenberg said the lawsuit had been filed in New York State Supreme Court in Putnam County. The suit says Mr. Greenberg lives in the upstate county.
Mr. Greenberg also plans to get involved in the campaign against Mr. Spitzer, the adviser said.
"Mr. Greenberg's views on the disgraced former governor are well known and at the appropriate time he will get involved," the adviser said.
Mr. Greenberg is the head of Starr Cos., an international insurance conglomerate.
Mr. Spitzer also got some good news Friday. His opponent in the Democratic primary, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, said he wouldn't challenge the 27,000 signatures on nominating petitions Mr. Spitzer filed Thursday night with the Board of Elections. Mr. Stringer urged his allies not to challenge them, either. But Mr. Stringer can't stop others from challenging Mr. Spitzer's place on the ballot.
Candidates for comptroller had to submit the signatures of 3,750 registered Democrats by the end of Thursday to secure a place on the Sept. 10 primary ballot. Supporters of candidates for city office often challenge the validity of their opponents' signatures in hopes of knocking them off the ballot.
With four days between Mr. Spitzer's announcement Sunday night and the Thursday deadline, many city political operatives had said it would be difficult for him to gather enough valid signatures to make up for the ones that would likely be thrown out as the result of challenges.
But the 27,000 signatures Mr. Spitzer filed exceeded most expectations and represented an obstacle to any attempt to remove him from the ballot. Notice of such challenges is due Monday.
"I do not believe that a petition should be challenged," Mr. Stringer told reporters Friday. "I am ready for the fight. "