The New York Times broke the story on its Web site Monday afternoon, saying Spitzer had told his closest advisers that he was linked to an ongoing investigation of the Emperors Club VIP, an alleged high-priced escort service.
Some 90 minutes after the story first emerged, a glassy-eyed Spitzer appeared at his Manhattan office, his wife stoically at his side, saying he wanted to address what he called "a private matter."
"I have acted in a way that violated the obligations to my family and that violates my -- or any -- sense of right and wrong. I apologize first, and most importantly, to my family. I apologize to the public whom I promised better," Spitzer told a room packed with reporters.
"I have disappointed and failed to live up to the standard I expected of myself. I must now dedicate some time to regain the trust of my family."
Spitzer said he would have more to say on the matter at a later time and refused to take questions during the hastily organized press conference.
Reporters in the room shouted "Are you resigning?" as Spitzer left the room, the Democratic governor reportedly slamming the door behind him.
Almost immediately, lawmakers in the state legislature began calling for Spitzer to step down.
"Today's news that Eliot Spitzer was likely involved with a prostitution ring and his refusal to deny it leads to one inescapable conclusion: He has disgraced his office and the entire state of New York," said Assembly Republican leader James Tedisco, according to the Associated Press. "He should resign his office immediately."
Spitzer has been embroiled in a nasty state-level political fight after aides to the governor used the state police to gather travel information in a reported effort to tarnish the reputation of the Republican senate majority leader. The Albany County district attorney was set to issue a report on his investigation in the coming days.
The 48-year-old governor arrived in Albany promising a wave of political reform after a highly successful run as the state's attorney general. During his work as the state's top law enforcement official, Spitzer developed a reputation as a hard-hitting prosecutor, going after Wall Street misdeeds as well as organized crime figures.
But now, the man who shut down several high-profile prostitution rings was widely reported to have been caught on tape arranging a meeting in February at the posh D.C. hotel, the Mayflower.
According to an affidavit filed in federal court, law enforcement authorities recorded a man identified as "Client 9" on a telephone call confirming plans to have a woman travel from New York to Washington. A person briefed on the case and a law enforcement official both identified Spitzer as Client 9, according to the Times.
The client paid $4,300 in cash to the service, with some being used for the encounter and the rest apparently to be used for credit. When discussing how the payments would be arranged, Client 9 said: "Yup, same as in the past, no question about it."
Press speculation has already emerged around whether Spitzer can ride out the political storm that has erupted in the Empire State, with numerous accounts already speculating over what would happen to the state's leaderhip should he resign.