If this election cycle doesn't send good-government buffs screaming into the wilderness for a therapeutic rest, we'll know they can handle anything.
There's Anthony Weiner and his photography hobby. There's Eliot Spitzer and his black socks. There's John Liu and his fake donors. And now -- running for the City Council as a Brooklyn Democrat -- is Vito Lopez, who left the Assembly in May before ethics investigators revealed in scathing detail how he allegedly mistreated female staff members "to indulge his personal whims and desires."
We can only wonder as the campaign season builds: What ever happened to public embarrassment? It's a profoundly underrated virtue. And to make matters worse, Lopez today is creating new vexations.
The city Campaign Finance Board, which lives and breathes to promote good government, decided this week to give him $88,000 in public matching funds for the council race that many of us wish he wasn't running.
That's annoying, but it's a correct call for the board. Finding no skulduggery in Lopez's donor filings, the board had no choice but to ante up the cash. Besides, the board isn't the behavior police for candidates. Its duty is to promote open elections by giving a boost -- especially -- to grassroots candidates who show they have a following.
Still, few among us found it satisfying to hand over $88,000 in public money to an individual who has behaved in ways that can only be described as creepy and harmful.
Then there's the matter of the photograph. A few days ago an obviously doctored photo popped up in Lopez's campaign mailings portraying Hillary Clinton onstage with Lopez at what looked like a rally for his City Council race. Actually, the original shot was from a 2000 rally for council candidate Diana Reyna and it was seen in the Daily News, which this week ran the before and after pictures.
So even after this trick was exposed, Lopez still gets the money? Well, again, the board is only doing its job.
So now voters in Lopez's district have a job of their own to do as he faces off against Antonio Reynoso in the Sept. 10 primary. We'll keep our fingers crossed.