The head of one of the most influential business lobby groups assailed New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer yesterday for what he called overzealous prosecution of American businesses.
Speaking to reporters in Washington, Thomas J. Donahue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said many business prosecutions amounted to "criminalizing honest mistakes and legitimate accounting differences."
He said Spitzer and other regulators have trampled on the rights of American businesses by forcing them into settlements.
"The companies and individuals who have been targeted - or who could be targeted in the future - cannot speak out against these abuses. We can and we will," Donohue said in his prepared remarks.
But in response, Spitzer's office said the wrongdoing his office uncovered hurts businesses and consumers who play by the rules.
"This chamber should be proponents of high standards," Spitzer spokesman Darren Dopp said. "Instead, they are attacking the one person who has done the most to level the playing field for business."
Spitzer, a Democrat who announced last month that he will run for New York governor in 2006, has earned a national profile for investigating corporate abuses, particularly when other regulatory agencies failed.
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