As you probably know, yesterday House Republicans pushed a vote on reopening the House Ethics Committee’s Massa investigation — now focusing not so much on Massa but on what House leadership knew about his situation prior to last week. When I first heard what the known things were, they seemed not just thin but close to ridiculous. Massa was boarding with some members of his staff (not unprecedented and basically who cares), he used a lot of foul language (join the club) and he’d gone to dinner, possibly as a date, with a young gay staffer from Barney Frank’s office. Again, really not clear to me why that would be anyone’s business, let alone something that should lead to an ethics inquiry.
But on closer inspection it wasn’t quite that clear cut. Even though these three things seemed totally inconsequential on their face, people in Frank’s and Massa’s did think something was wrong and had communications at the staff level and later brought their concerns to members of Pelosi’s staff. (Another interesting thread to the story is that Massa’s chief of staff, Joe Racalto, used to work for Frank.) So it seemed to me that even though these things seemed innocuous on their face there must have been more to it that raised alarms for these folks.
Clearly, Republicans are trying to make this Foley part two. And whatever we learn about Massa’s actions, the comparison with leadership’s complicity is laughable. Denny Hastert and his staff knew pretty much everything that Foley was up to and took repeated efforts to keep it covered up. But we wanted to get a clearer sense of what was going on so Justin Elliott put together this timeline of everything we know to this point. Take a look.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.