Democrats embarrassed by sex row
AFTER less than two years in office, a Democratic congressman from New York State is to resign today in the latest of a series of embarrassments for the party that promised to run "the most ethical Congress in history".
Eric Massa (pictured left), who entered politics after a career in the US navy, told staff that he would step down after admitting he had made improper advances towards a man in his staff.
His departure follows the suspension of another New York Democrat from the powerful House Ways and Means Committee amid multiple ethics investigations; claims of wrongdoing by five other House Democrats; and calls for the resignation of the governor of New York, also a Democrat.
The taint of scandal from so many sources threatens to distract senior Democrats' attention from their last-ditch efforts to pass comprehensive health reform, and gives conservatives an opening to turn the tables on the party that took control of Congress in 2006 by branding Republicans the party of sleaze.
In a barely coherent statement on Friday, Mr Massa, who is married with two children, said that he "did in fact use language, in the privacy of my own home and in my inner office that, after 24 years in the navy, might make a chief petty officer feel uncomfortable".
However, his departure will lower by one vote the number needed to pass US President Barack Obama's latest health reform proposals, which Mr Massa opposed. (© The Times, London)