March 5, 2010 | by Chris Johnson
Massa resigns amid alleged sexual harrassment of male staffer

Amid allegations that he sexually harassed a male staffer, Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) announced Friday he would resign his position from Congress next week.

The House ethics committee reportedly was investigating Massa for the alleged misconduct. Prior to announcing his intended resignation, Massa had said he wasn’t seeking another term, but said he was retiring for health reasons.

But in a statement posted to his website on Friday, Massa acknowledged he may have used language that would have made some of his male staffers uncomfortable.

“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,” Massa said. ”In fact, there is no doubt that this Ethics issue is my fault and mine alone.”

DC Agenda will have a more full report on Massa’s resignation next week. The lawmaker’s complete statement is below:

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.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

1 Comment
  • I hope we at least learned what the “salty language” was that would cause a chief petty officer to feel uncomfortable and a congressman to resign.

    Rahm Emanuel is famous for using salty language and it got him in line to become a possible future speaker of the House before he became the chief of staff to POTUS…where he continues to use language salty enough to make a chief petty officer blush, apparently without consequence (unless you count his half-hearted apologies and a skit on SNL).

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