Former U.S. Representative Eric Massa’s (D-NY-29th) story just delves deeper into the sewer. God bless his wife and children. It is alleged that interviews with senior staff reveal that the congressman “touched them in a sexual manner, came up with reasons to have staffers travel alone with him on overnight trips, and expressed a desire to have sex with the men in the office.” Staffers lodged complaints against Massa for a year before the news broke, forcing him to resign his seat. And now we hear that the final hammer that fell was Massa hitting on a “young bartender” at the funeral of a fallen Marine.
House Minority leader, John Boehner (R-OH) is accusing Nancy Pelosi’s staff of knowing of the problem and doing nothing about it. A staffer for Massa has hired an attorney, Debra Katz, who said Massa’s behavior “left my client and other gay men in the office even more vulnerable to Representative Massa’s predatory behavior.” The environment in Massa’s office was “a frat house environment full of sex talk and lewd behavior.”
Massa tendered his resignation after attending the funeral for a Marine who died in an explosion in Afghanistan. Massa apparently hit on a “young bartender” at the wake. A few days later, a New York blogger alerted Massa’s office that someone left an anonymous comment on his blog accusing Massa of soliciting sex from the bartender.
In early March, TIME writer Jay Newton-Small explained why Eric Massa was “no Mark Foley.” You’ll recall that Foley participated in some sexually explicit emails to male House pages. In the years since the 2006 scandal broke, there has never been any credible proof that Foley ever had any physical contact with the pages. The TIME reports says the situations differ in these ways, and I’ll begin with Newton-Small’s last point:
5) Massa was a Democrat and not held to the “same family values” standards that Republicans hold themselves to!!! What does that have to do with sexually harrassing a staffer? Well…here’s the answer: Democrat leadership will apparently not respond to the complaints of staffers. Republicans will.
1) Massa’s staff referred his behavior to an Ethics Committee. Well, yes they did, but Newton-Small says the Ethics Committee “was on the case: there is no cover-up.” Obviously, we know there was a cover-up at the highest level of the House leadership.
2) The staffer in Massa’s lair isn’t an underage teen. That appears to be true…so far.
3) Massa’s resignation was not due to a sex scandal but a return of his cancer. Well, no…not quite, according to his staff he resigned after charges that he hit on a “young” bartender at a Marine’s funeral.
4) Massa had barely been in office for 14 months. He did not have the power that the six-term Foley had. That’s true, but it appears Massa was behaving badly for nearly the entire time he was in Congress…and Nancy Pelosi knew about it. There is nothing here to compare. When a staffer is sexually harrassed, who cares how powerful the congressman is?
Mark Foley resigned within hours of the allegations against him – as requested by Republican leadership, not Foley’s own staffers – which is what it took to make Pelosi and Steny Hoyer pay attention.
Then there is this little tidbit: the Florida Democrat who replaced Foley is a married man who was accused of agreeing to pay a staffer/mistress $121,000 to avoid a lawsuit. He is also alleged to have offered the woman, Patricia Allen, a $50,000/a year job for two years with his ad agency. There was no appalling outcry by Democrats. In fact, this report says then-Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel, the head of the Democratic Caucus, worked with Mahoney to keep the situation from hurting his re-election campaign. Mahoney ran for reelection in 2008 and lost to Republican Tom Rooney. Rooney is a former member of the U.S. Army JAG Corps and former West Point instructor, and so far is scandal free.