So initial reports had Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY) not running for re-election because he’s had a recurrence of cancer. But now Politico is reporting that Massa has been dogged by allegations of sexual harassment of a male staffer (Massa is married with two kids). Politico cites “several” anonymous House aides on “both sides of the aisle.” Massa is holding a conference call at 3:30 ET so we should know the official reason for his withdrawal shortly.
Asked about the allegations by Politico, Massa reportedly said, “When someone makes a decision to leave Congress, everybody says everything. I have health issues. I’ll talk about it [later].”
Massa was the congressional candidate who after losing his 2006 bid was sued for libel by his campaign manager, a case which was settled with a rather unusual statement issued jointly by the two men. Massa went on to win election in 2008.
Massa fired his campaign manager, Sanford Dickert, and later accused him, among other things, of “providing alcohol to underage boys and inviting a teenage boy to spend the night with him,” according to a November 2, 2006 report in the Elmira (NY) Star-Gazette (via Nexis). After being fired Dickert filed suit to force arbitration of the employment dispute. The libel lawsuit was apparently filed by Dickert later. In the settlement statement, Massa retracted his allegations against Dickert. I reached Dickert by phone a few minutes ago and he declined to comment.
Late Update: In a conference call with reporters, Massa rejected the sexual harassment charges as “unsubstantiated without fact or backing,” adding: “Do I or have I ever used salty language especially when I’m angry, in the privacy of my inner office or at home? Yes I have and I’ve apologized where it’s appropriate.” he said the real reason for his decision not to run was his health and the need to slow down the pace of his life.
David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.