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What’s With All the Sex in the City?

New Yorkers See Their Fair Share of Scandal

Richard Drew/AP Photo
Rep. Anthony Weiner may face an ethics investigation after he admitted Monday to sending sexually explicit photos and messages to women online.

Move over Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton and Charlie Sheen — the New York Congressional delegation is making a run to be the sex scandal kings of the decade.

From Rep. Anthony Weiner (D) to former Reps. Chris Lee (R) and Eric Massa (D), Empire State politicians are baring all and bringing their own version of "Sex and the City" to D.C.

Weiner joined the hall of shame Monday, admitting to sending "inappropriate" photos to at least six women who were not his wife.

Asked about the string of New York sex scandals, local political consultant Curtis Ellis immediately evoked the Rolling Stones.

"This is a sex drive city, baby," he laughed. "I think people are getting de-sensitized to a certain degree. They see this as entertainment value, on the other hand, they say, 'Who gives a damn, if the person's doing a good job?'"

While sex scandals are hardly an exclusive New York problem, the state has certainly had more than its share of public officials caught in compromising positions.

Since 1960, dozens of New York politicians have been the focus of various and sundry scandals involving everything from sex with minors to marijuana possession to charges of corruption. But during the past three years, there has been a marked uptick in scandal-plagued politicians from the state, with six lawmakers caught in sexual peccadilloes. That doesn't include Rep. Charlie Rangel's (D) ethics woes that have stretched over several years and resulted in official censure in December.

Media consultants largely blame the intense media scrutiny and cutthroat politics for the increasing number of storylines more akin to reality shows like Bravo's "Real Housewives of New York City."

"The trend line shows that it's a hotbed of scandal at the state and federal level," said Ron Bonjean, a former GOP leadership staffer.

But Bonjean, now at Singer Bonjean Strategies, doesn't think there is more promiscuous behavior in the state causing the rash of salacious stories. "Because of the large population, the large concentration of lawmakers coinciding with an enormous media, you have the possibility for a lot more scrutiny," he said.

That close examination can have real-world ramifications, with resignations causing political parties to lose seats, or the distraction thwarting a politician's chances at running for another public office.

New York's most recent scandal-tarred son, Weiner, 46, was widely expected to run for mayor of New York City. However, Weiner's ongoing imbroglio involving suggestive photos of himself sans clothing has cast doubt on his potential viability for that office.

Local coverage, particularly in the New York Post, has been intense and merciless.

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