UPDATE: John Stewart turns lemons into lemonade
The Massa Mess
If you read last week’s In the House we brought you the breaking news that upstate New York Rep. Eric Massa (D) was retiring. In days since that post, the situation has morphed into an epic beltway sex scandal. Massa has now resigned his seat and salacious revelations dominate the news.
A Google search for “Eric Massa” will bring up plenty of details, but a quick outline of recent developments is after the jump.
• Although her originally stated he was retiring because of a recurrence of cancer, Massa admitted to using “salty” language with his staff during a speech announcing his retirement. He later admitted to having propositioned a staffer at another staffer’s wedding, though he seemed to portray the incident as a drunken joke.
• Over the weekend, Massa gave a radio interview in which he portrayed the allegations leading to his resignation as part of a Machiavellian scheme to pass health care reform. Massa had voted against the health care reform because it was not liberal enough. He said he believed House leadership and White House staff were trying to get him out of Congress so they would need one less vote for health care reform. In the interview, Massa described being harangued by a naked Rahm Emanuel in the House gym, and described Emanuel as the “son of the devil’s spawn.”
• Enthralled by Massa’s attack on the administration, Glenn Beck booked Massa on his program on Tuesday. Massa gave a rambling and contradictory interview in which he admitted to “tickle fights” and “groping” staffers, but claimed he had done “nothing sexual.” At the end of the interview, Beck apologized to his audience for booking Massa.
• As video of the Beck interview circulated on the Internet, new revelations arose that there had been allegations that Massa had harassed subordinates during his service in the Navy.
• It is now being reported that Massa’s Chief of Staff had approached Majority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) staff in October to report that he was uncomfortable with Massa’s behavior. He was particularly disturbed that Massa was living in a group house with single young male staffers and that Massa had made a lunch date with a young man from Rep. Barney Frank’s (D-MA) staff.
Now that Massa is no longer a Member of Congress, the House Ethics Committee has closed its investigation as it lacks jurisdiction. His now empty House seat will have to be filled with a special election. New York Governor David Patterson, himself enmeshed in an ethics scandal, has not indicated when he will schedule this election.
Full disclosure: Council for a Livable World’s PeacePAC endorsed Massa in both of his elections. While we obviously had no knowledge of his personal issues, we regret the decision.