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.
UPDATE III: Massa is now up with a statement on his website. Here it is in full, after the jump:
Two days ago as I sat reading my new annual CAT scan, having been told that the anomalies in the films may or may not be scar tissue, I decided to finally take the advice that my doctors have repeatedly given me, and that is to take care of my family and myself before my profession. 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.
I own this reality. There is no doubt in my mind that I did in fact, use 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. In fact, there is no doubt that this Ethics issue is my fault and mine alone. But in 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, there is also no doubt that an Ethics investigation would tear my family and my staff apart. Some would say that this is what happens when you stand apart from political parties, which I have done. Others will say that this is what happens to a non politician when they go to Washington DC. I want to make something perfectly clear. My difficulties are of my own making. Period. I am also aware that blogs and radio will have a field day with this in today’s destructive and unforgiving political environment. In that investigators would be free to ask anything about me going back to my birth, I simply cannot rise to that level of perfection. God knows that I am a deeply flawed and imperfect person.
During long car rides, in the early hours of the evening, late at night and always in private, I know that my own language failed to meet the standards that I set for all around me and myself. I fell short and I believe now, as I have always believed, that it is not enough to simply talk the talk, but rather I must take action to hold myself accountable.
Therefore, effective at 5 PM on Monday the 8th of March I will resign my position as the Federal Representative of New York’s 29th Congressional District in the 111th Congress. I do so with a profound sense of failure and a deep apology to all those whom, for the past year, I tried to represent as our Nation struggles with problems far greater than anyone can possibly imagine. I hope that my family, constituents, and fellow Members of Congress can accept this apology as being both genuine and heartfelt and I wish for them and all Americans only the best. I will take all actions possible to ensure that my personal health is secured in that I know that mine is a far more fragile lifeline than most. For the millions of fellow cancer survivors with whom I share this experience, they, more than anyone else, will understand the honesty and openness in this statement.
I ask that members of the press respect the privacy of my family, my staff, and me at this time.