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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Democrats Massa and Espada in deep trouble

The House ethics committee has created a special investigative panel to look into sexual harassment allegations surrounding former Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.).

Massa resigned from Congress last month following revelations that his interactions with aides - some of whom had complained to Democratic leaders about the freshman lawmaker's behavior - led the ethics committee to open a preliminary review.

But Wednesday's announcement means the Massa controversy will not go away soon.

In the statement, the ethics committee said "the allegations surrounding former Representative Massa are serious and warrant a full investigation."

Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) immediately seized on the ethics committee's announcement, demonstrating that the Massa scandal could continue to cause for House Democrats.

"Speaker Pelosi’s staff has acknowledged they knew about problems in Mr. Massa’s office back in the fall of 2009, and House Majority Leader Hoyer’s office was contacted at least several days before the allegations were publicly known," Boehner said in a statement. "We need answers to serious questions: what did Democratic Leaders know about former Rep. Massa’s conduct? When did they know? What did they do to protect the staff and interns who were being subjected to harassment by their boss?” (Continues here)

FBI, IRS raid NY state senator's Bronx clinic
By JIM FITZGERALD (AP) – 5 hours ago

NEW YORK — Federal authorities raided a government-funded clinic run by the state Senate's majority leader, one day after New York's attorney general accused him of siphoning $14 million from it.

About a dozen FBI and IRS agents and investigators from the attorney general's office appeared Wednesday at the Soundview Healthcare Network in the Bronx, where a big canopy above the front door lists Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. as its president and CEO.

Some agents went into the clinic's offices. Others used bolt cutters to open an 8-foot-tall, 25-foot-long storage container behind the building and removed Espada campaign posters and other items. They also stacked boxes on the grass, and agents wearing blue or green gloves leafed through the contents and wrote notes.

One box was marked, "Payroll 205." Another said "Timesheets 205-206."

Espada spokesman Steve Mangione didn't immediately respond to requests for comment left on his cell phone and through e-mail.

FBI spokesman James Margolin called it a criminal investigation but would not say who, if anyone, was the target. A search warrant affidavit specified the probable cause, but it was sealed and he couldn't comment on it, Margolin said.

He declined to comment when asked whether it was legal to have campaign posters on the grounds of the clinic.

Margolin said clinic workers were cooperating with investigators. He would not say whether any other locations would be searched.

On Tuesday, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced a lawsuit accusing Espada of siphoning money used for lavish restaurant meals, trips to Las Vegas and Espada's campaign. (continues here)

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