The Hotline is reporting that Eric Massa will resign on Monday, and cites House Democrats “pressuring” him to leave Congress.
Massa has been pressured by House Dems to step aside amid an ethics controversy that caused him to announce earlier this week he would not run for a second term.
There’s an open investigation in the Ethics Committee of allegations by a junior staffer against Massa, but to date, the only organization willing to report that as sexual harrassment has been Politico. They’ve started to get around to naming their sources, albeit with one degree of separation, but Massa’s Chief of Staff offered his side of the story to a local TV reporter. Mind you this is the only direct source with knowledge of the situation on the record:
As to Rep. Massa’s Health: This is why he announced today that he’s not seeking re-election. Racalto tells me he picked Massa up from the hospital in December, the morning of his cancer exam; as you may know, he’s survived cancer once already in this life. There were abnormal blood conditions during that physical and there is/was a threat to his health. Racalto says that since then Massa’s schedule has been cleared at certain times, most recently last week, so he and his family can discuss what course of action should be taken. “He is retiring for health reasons,” Racalto said. “The reality is he’s sick.”
Racalto tells me the conversation kept coming back to a simple question: “At what cost do you want to remain a Congressman?” In the end, the answer often included a desire to see his two children graduate college. (A son attends Syracuse University; a daughter is at Big East Rival Georgetown.) […]
Various reports swirling seem to reference the sources as “aides from both sides of the aisle” to which Racalto wonders, who? Interns? Ex-employees? Staffers from some other Representative’s office? Who is not speaking up as a named source? Personally, I’m sure we’re all wondering to some degree where these unnamed sources are coming from… most especially in light of what we’re seeing unfold in Albany with Governor David Paterson and a month’s worth of rumors and reports. But to this point Racalto tells me he and Rep. Massa are actually looking forward to responding to whatever complaint or allegation may or may not exist. “Just tell me what I’m fighting,” Racalto said.
Left with little knowledge of any actual allegation (so says Racalto), Rep. Massa sort of assumed it must be related to “salty” language – which he made reference to in his announcement Wednesday. “We’re talking about a Navy guy, he uses salty language,” Racalto said. Racalto also added that there have been other complaints in the office related to language used by Rep. Massa and other staffers.
To the specific reports circulating about harassment allegations, be them sexual in nature or not depending on the report you read, Racalto had this to say: “I can confirm my sitting staff has not contacted them (Ethics Committee)…I can confirm to the best of my knowledge that the harassment charges are unfounded.”
Take that for what it’s worth. I know Politico has no monopoly on the truth in this case and has been peddling a mess of innuendo.
Understand that there are multiple reasons for House Democrats to force Massa out at this stage. First there’s the desire to look tough on ethics allegations and wash their hands of any impropriety. The second reason would be the raw politics of the health care vote. Massa voted against the bill last time, and certainly sounded like a no on this one, as of a couple weeks ago. What’s more, Nathan Deal sticking around for the vote changed the threshold back to 217; if Massa resigned, that would return back to 216.
A resignation would not confirm rumors unless Massa confirms them; it just means that the House leadership has begun to play hardball on a couple different fronts.
UPDATE: This looks to be confirmed.
UPDATE II: To be clear, I simply don’t think we know the nature of the allegations, and the resignation will not be determinative, because there are other underlying factors associated with leadership forcing him out of the seat. Jeff Zeleny lumping in Massa as part of a spate of “scandals” without actually saying a thing about the nature of the scandal reflects the irresponsibility going on here on the part of the media. If they know something, they ought to say it.