Congressman Accused of Harassing Male Aide to Retire
A Democratic congressman from New York who has been accused of harassing a male aide has announced that he will not seek reelection, reported Politico in a March 3 article.
Rep. Eric Massa--a married Navy veteran with two children--cited health concerns as the reason he is stepping down after only a single term, saying his doctor had told him to slow down. "I’m a very salty guy, I’m a very direct guy, and I run at about 100 miles per hour. And my doctors have made it clear to me that I can no longer do that," Massa said. The congressman was hospitalized late last year in what he called a "third major cancer reoccurrence scare" following an earlier bout of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
"I will now enter the final phase of my life at a more controlled pace," Massa announced at a brief media teleconference on March 3. His retirement means he will not face an aggressive challenge by Republicans, who had lined up a challenger for the upcoming midterm elections.
"The allegations are totally false. I am a salty old sailor," a March 3 Fox News.com article reported Massa saying. "There are blogs that are saying that I am leaving because of charges of harassing my staff. Do and have I used salty language? Yes and I have tried to do better."
Massa’s announcement brings to sixteen the number of House of Representatives seats that Democrats are leaving. New York’s Democratic governor, David Paterson, has also announced that he will not run for re-election. Nineteen Republican House members will also be retiring, but whereas eleven of seats being vacated by Democrats face stiff competition from GOP challengers, most of the seats currently occupied by retiring Republicans are viewed as likely to remain with the GOP.
In a statement, the office of House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer recounted, "The week of February 8th, a member of Rep. Massa’s staff brought to the attention of Mr. Hoyer’s staff allegations of misconduct that had been made against Mr. Massa. Mr. Hoyer’s staff immediately informed him of what they had been told. Mr. Hoyer instructed his staff that if Mr. Massa or his staff did not bring the matter to the attention of the bipartisan Ethics Committee within 48 hours, Mr. Hoyer would do so."
The statement continued, "Within 48 hours, Mr. Hoyer received confirmation from both the Ethics Committee staff and Mr. Massa’s staff that the Ethics Committee had been contacted and would review the allegations. Mr. Hoyer does not know whether the allegations are true or false, but wanted to ensure that the bipartisan committee charged with overseeing conduct of Members was immediately involved to determine the facts."