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Eliot Spitzer, David Paterson, Charlie Rangel, Eric Massa -- what's in that famous N.Y. water anyway?

March 4, 2010 |  8:54 am

New York Democrat Eric Massa
New York is famous for its water. In fact, some people say that's why New York bagels are second to none.

Seriously.

But this is beginning to look like a sewer.

First,  Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned after it turned out he was Client No. 9 in prosecutors' attempts to break up a prostitution ring, a client who was wiring money to shell corporations to pay for his habit. Apparently he's bored to death as a real estate magnate -- "Politics gets my heart pounding faster than buying a building and raising rents," he told Time magazine -- and eying a comeback.. The New York Post responded to Spitzer's comeback hopes with this headline: "You Can't Keep a Bad Man Down."

Not to be outdone, Spitzer's successor, Gov. David Paterson, is now teetering on the edge of his own scandal involving his alleged attempts to pressure a woman seeking an injunction against an abusive boyfriend who happened to be one of the governor's top aides.

And let's not forget Charlie Rangel, the affable but ethics-challenged chairman of the Ways and Means Committee who forgot to mention on his House financial disclosure reports that he took corporate sponsorship for overseas trips.

Now comes word that Eric Massa, a first-term Upstate Democratic congressman, will not be seeking reelection. Massa says he is leaving Congress for health reasons. But turns out the congressman, who is married with two children, is being investigated by the House Ethics Committee for making unwanted advances toward a junior male staffer.

In a bit of marvelous irony, Politico reported that on Massa's 50th birthday last September, his staff chipped in on a plaque for him engraved with a quote from Ronald Reagan: “You must have the courage to do what is morally right.”

All of this creates headaches for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Taking the reins in 2007, Pelosi promised to run the most ethical Congress in history. Now, as she struggles to keep Blue Dog Democrats on board for the healthcare bill and the Congressional Black Caucus on board for the $15-billion jobs bill, she must also grapple with the appearance of Democratic sleaziness -- just in time for the 2010 midterm elections.

Maybe a water purification program?

-- Johanna Neuman

Photo: Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.); credit: Associated Press

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