News & Politics

Eric Massa Announces Resignation: “I’m guilty”


Eric Massa, the freshman congressman from NY-29 who was predicted to resign on Monday, got a jump on the weekend and announced his resignation yesterday.

Massa, a cancer survivor, still insists he’s resigning for health reasons. He also admitted on his congressional website that his behavior with “a member of my staff” which triggered an ethics investigation involved “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.” His language also, he says, failed to meet his own exacting standards “[d]uring long car rides, in the early hours of the evening, late at night and always in private.”

In an interview with the Corning Leader he was a bit more explicit: “It’s not that I can fight or beat these allegations, I’m guilty.”

Massa seems to suggest on his website that he didn’t know about the Ethics Committee investigation until after he made the decision to leave office

After I decided not to run again I was told, for the first time, that a member of my staff believed I had made statements that made him feel “uncomfortable.” I was told that a report had been filed with the Congressional Ethics Committee. At no point prior to this had any member of the Ethics Committee communicated with me directly – if fact I first read it on the internet.

He may not have been communicated with directly, and he may not have been told about the report filed with the Ethics Committee, but it seems improbable that Thursday was the first time he heard that a member of his staff was unhappy.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer insists that Massa’s staff was notified about the “uncomfortable” staffer in early February

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. 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.

Massa’s Chief of Staff Joe Racalto t0ld WHAM in Rochester on Thursday, the day Massa supposedly heard about all this for the first time, that Racalto was interviewed by the ethics committee “on this matter” two and a half weeks earlier.

Massa, while he says his problems are “my fault and mine alone,” also gives a shoutout to “the incredibly toxic atmosphere that is Washington D.C., with the destruction of our elected leaders having become a blood sport, especially in talk radio and on the internet,” “what happens when you stand apart from political parties, which I have done,” “what happens to a non politician when they go to Washington DC,” and “today’s destructive and unforgiving political environment.”

Governor Paterson may or may not schedule a special election to fill the seat. Randy Kuhl, the Republican Massa narrowly beat in the last election, is expected to try again.

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