March 8th, 2010
02:12 PM ET
5 years ago

Massa details conversation that led to ethics probe

Rep. Eric Massa detailed on his weekly radio show the conversations that have led to an ethics investigation.
Rep. Eric Massa detailed on his weekly radio show the conversations that have led to an ethics investigation.

(CNN) - Embattled Rep. Eric Massa said Sunday that the ethics investigation surrounding him stems from a sexually laced conversation he had at a New Year's Eve wedding.

The New York Democrat said in his weekly radio show that he wasn't told about the ethics probe until after he decided to retire and that he first learned the details of the investigation from news reports.

While at a wedding for one of his staff members, Massa said he danced with the bride and bridesmaid as cameras rolled.

"Absolutely nothing occurred," while he was dancing, he said.

Massa said he then sat with some staff members who were all bachelors. In a conversation fueled by alcohol, one staff member "made an intonation to me that maybe I should be chasing after the bridesmaid," Massa said.

Massa said he told the staffer beside him, "Well, what I really ought to be doing is fracking you."

Massa said he "tousled the guy's hair and left – went to my room because I knew the party was getting to a point where it wasn't right for me to be there," Massa said.

"Now was that inappropriate of me? Absolutely. Am I guilty? Yes," he continued.

Massa said the staff member to whom he made the remark never told him he felt uncomfortable. Instead, Massa said, someone else went to another staff member who was uncomfortable for the first staff member. That person in turn went to the House Ethics Committee.

"It was a third-party political correctness statement," Massa charged, reiterating that his information comes not from the ethics committee, but from what he read in newspapers.

Massa, who voted against the House's health care reform bill in November, said that he was being pushed out so Democrats could move ahead with reform.

"Now they've gotten rid of me and it will pass. You connect the dots," he said.

Massa on Wednesday had said he would not seek re-election because of health concerns and denied reports that he had harassed one of his Capitol Hill staffers. Two days later, he announced he would resign from the House effective Monday.

In a statement Friday, Massa said he had already decided to quit because of concerns about cancer before he learned that a staffer had complained to the ethics panel.

"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,' " Massa wrote.

"I own this reality," he continued. "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."

He goes on to lament the "incredibly toxic atmosphere" in Washington and says that an ethics probe "would tear my family and my staff apart." Investigators, he said, would "be free to ask anything about me going back to my birth."

"I simply cannot rise to that level of perfection," Massa wrote. "God knows that I am a deeply flawed and imperfect person."

Massa defeated an incumbent Republican with 51 percent of the vote in 2008. But John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, also carried the same congressional district by 51 percent, which gives the GOP hope of taking back the seat.

A link to Massa's radio show was posted on WHAM-TV's Web site.

–CNN's Rich Barbieri contributed to this report.


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soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. sifto77

    Sounds like a pelosi "muscle moment"–what a bunch of crooks–anything to get that health fiasco passed–this is about as low as it gets in Washington....

    March 8, 2010 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  2. Doug,lib jersey

    I'm sure he had a dead fish Rahm'ed into his mailbox just like David Patterson. Vince Foster is going to look like childs play by 2012.

    March 8, 2010 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  3. I Can't Stand It

    This appears to have little to do with inappropriate behavior and a lot to do with Chicago machine politics. Toe the line on the health care bill that the people don't want or face ruthless political and personal assault. Counting the seconds till November!

    March 8, 2010 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  4. Anonymous

    another member of Pelosi's "most ethical congress in history".

    March 8, 2010 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  5. Terry from D.C.

    This just shows how corrupt and non-trustworthy this administration is!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Obama is a liar! Pelosi is a liar! Reid is a liar! To do all of this to force a bill that the people don't want. What country are we living in? This sort of stuff happens in Russia, or Cuba, not the USA. There are currently 36 states who are in the process of passing bills that protect their citizens from this terrible socialist health care bill and says that they do not have to abide by the laws that Obama makes. The country is ready to explode in revolution, if this terrible health bill passes, THERE WILL BE A REVOLUTION.

    March 8, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  6. chill

    So how does that make sense? Massa claims he quit for health reasons and in the next breath infers that the Dems forced him out so they could pass health care. The investigation sounds like much ado about almost nothing. Stupid comment to be sure, but come on. There's be about three people left in Congress if all their staffs were this sensitive.

    March 8, 2010 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  7. southerncousin

    He voted against health care so he is not getting any support from Obozo or botox face.

    March 8, 2010 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  8. Dave Harris

    Did he really say "fracking"? This is what comes of watching too much Battlestar Galactica.

    March 8, 2010 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  9. John Long

    I like how CNN has buried this serious allegation concerning the political structure of congress in the Political Ticker section of their web site. At a minimum this is a front page story, if not a breaking news story. Good job CNN. Remember President Obama's directive : "Let's pass the health care bill by any means necessary ." Good to see you are holding up your end of the deal CNN.

    March 8, 2010 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  10. terry,va.

    Another "no" vote bites the dust on Obummie's health care bill. All Obummie needs to do is to bump off 2 more "no" votes and his socialist agenda passes. Welcome to Russia, comrade.

    March 8, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  11. Cynthia Vitale

    Congressman Massa

    DO NOT RESIGNE.

    America needs you to speak out for us. We are so tired of all the deals and lies.

    Vote against the Obama/senate health care bill. Like you said it will destory America.

    The democrates are treating you like they are treating Gov. David Patterson.

    Again, stay and vote against this massave health care bill. We want reform, but not this.

    Cynthia vitale

    March 8, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  12. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    This is so childish and stupid, people will do anything to hurt others. There's no story here.

    March 8, 2010 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  13. Sighing at American Politics

    Typical Democrat.

    March 8, 2010 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  14. Lonnie, CO

    Homeo or homeo, where for art there homeo.
    He propositioned a staff member in front of another staff member. Sorry bro, that's going to be investigated.

    March 8, 2010 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  15. Really

    This is all to the ethics probe. Looks like a witch hunt to me. Although I am not one of his supporters and do not agree with the Obama adminstration at all, I think this has been blown up for some reason other than the ethics charge itself. The guy should hold his ground.

    March 8, 2010 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  16. Who said the Mayans were wrong?

    Is that the staffer in this photo?Maybe hes a flipper, like that wonderful dolphin on TV years ago.

    March 8, 2010 11:58 am at 11:58 am |