March 3rd, 2010
10:10 PM ET
11 years ago

Retiring Democrat denies harassment allegations

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Rep. Eric Massa announced Wednesday that he will not seek a second term."]Washington (CNN) - Rep. Eric Massa, D-New York, denied reports Wednesday that he harassed one of his Capitol Hill staffers - announcing, however, that he would not seek re-election because of health concerns.

A spokeswoman for House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer acknowledged that allegations of misconduct against Massa, 50, were under review by the House Ethics Committee.

Hoyer spokeswoman Katie Grant said that a member of Massa's staff told Hoyer's staff about the allegations, and Hoyer gave the retired Navy commander 48 hours to take the matter to the Ethics Committee.

"Within 48 hours, Mr. Hoyer received confirmation from both the Ethics Committee staff and Mr. Massa's staff that the Ethics Committee had been contacted and would review the allegations," Grant said. "Mr. Hoyer does not know whether the allegations are true or false, but wanted to ensure that the bipartisan committee charged with overseeing conduct of members was immediately involved to determine the facts."

The online journal Politico reported earlier Wednesday that Massa was stepping down "amid allegations he sexually harassed a male staffer," and a senior Democratic aide later told CNN that the allegations involved a male staffer who was made to feel uncomfortable.

The aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions among staff were private on a sensitive matter and because of the ongoing Ethics Committee investigation, said the allegation involved "a sexual implication."

Massa, who did not take questions during the media conference call in which he announced his decision not to seek re-election, addressed the allegations head-on and denied the report.

He described the report as "unsubstantiated without facts or backing."

But Massa, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, did acknowledge using "salty" language in the workplace.

"Do I or have I ever used salty language when I'm angry especially in the privacy of my inner office or even at home? Yes, I have and I have apologized to those where it's appropriate," he said.

The freshman Democrat said he was announcing his decision to retire early in order to give candidates interested in replacing him sufficient time to plan a campaign.

Massa, a cancer survivor, told reporters that he was briefly hospitalized last December.

"I kept it private between myself and my immediate family," Massa said.

"It was a very intense and personal experience especially in light of having gone through this before."

Massa said he keeps up a brisk pace, "and my doctors have made it clear that I can no longer do that."

Massa is the 10th House Democrat to announce that he will not seek another term in the House nor run for a higher office in 2010. Seven House Republicans have also said they will outright retire at the close of the 111th Congress.

- CNN's Martina Stewart contributed to this report.

Filed under: Eric Massa • Extra • Popular Posts
soundoff (58 Responses)
  1. Obama the Arrogant Liar

    just leave the deviate liberal alone, please

    March 3, 2010 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  2. Justen in Florida

    both sides seem to be equally corrupt.

    March 3, 2010 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  3. Justen in Florida

    although I think "cold cash" jefferson was the craziest thing I've ever heard of.

    March 3, 2010 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  4. Paul

    No big deal ... he's a Democrat ... why would we expect any different?

    March 3, 2010 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  5. Bob Pacific Grove, Ca

    Lets see....C Street republicans true to their family values: John Ensign....then there is Marc, I can use public funds, Sanford, a first class republican conservative.....Lest we forget Senator Vitter from Louisiana, another family value, anti-Clinton hypocrite......THEY ARE ALL STILL IN PUBLIC OFFICE.....I guess they're just "entitled"...they're republicans....

    March 3, 2010 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  6. Dave

    So what does him being a cancer survivor have to do with it?
    That's a separate thing completely. Did that make him sexually harass a staffer? Of course sicne he is a Democrat, CNN wants to male excuses for him. If he were a Republican, CNN would mention that he kicked his dog one time.

    March 3, 2010 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  7. MatthewDetroit

    Nice another Barney Frank guy....sorry to see you go DEM.

    March 3, 2010 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  8. Dwayne

    Wow! See, things do get shady where the grass is greener.

    March 3, 2010 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  9. hillcoguy

    His accusations are all about gobble de gook!

    March 3, 2010 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  10. Justin Seine

    Wow! with all these politicos retiring it's beginning to look like rats abandoning a sinking ship! "Every Man for Himself! Save the Women and Children Last! - "Let's get out of here before the masses march on Washington with torches and nooses!"

    March 3, 2010 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  11. ib

    Going to be a lot more democrats retire in Nov. if they don't start listening to people instead of stuffing things down our throats that we don't want.

    March 3, 2010 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  12. liberal wingnut

    Not enough retiring yet

    March 3, 2010 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  13. Mike

    Usually it takes more than one term to get caught.

    March 3, 2010 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  14. Dale

    If now we can just get the rest of them to quit, from BOTH parties, then we can fill their positions with Hooters Girls. I'm sure they can't do any worse of a job and we'd all prefer to see them in front of the camera.

    March 3, 2010 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  15. bryan

    Most people hear understand that this double standard happens, that should be a warning sign for democrats this November, if they pass this health care (no care about it) they will go down hard, I think they will go down anyway but really hard if they ram it through. I can't believe all these young people voted for Obama on the hope thing, I bet they are sick now. I know I'am.

    March 3, 2010 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  16. GaryB

    Massa's a former old school Navy guy, so I can buy that his language might have got him into trouble. Keep in mind that just using certain offensive words to refer to certain types of people could lead to a charge of sexual harrassment.

    Also interesting to note to all those people who somehow think this is a Democrat thing... up until a few years ago, Massa was a Republican.

    March 3, 2010 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  17. Carlos

    Just wait till November, we are going to retire a bunch of them.

    March 3, 2010 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  18. SJ

    Corruption and scandal is not exclusive to any one political party. Being hypocritical and sanctimonious about it, however, is pretty much something that the Republicans and their supporters have a corner on,. Just read the ignorant rantings of Gary, Daniel, and leonardofru if you need any further proof.

    March 3, 2010 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  19. sincere

    Truth is power corrupts. So im really not surprised with what goes on with both sides here. There should never have been two parties in the first place. Just one. The party of American people. Majority rules. No more of this Republic crap. A scheme devised so that these clowns can get away with God knows what right under our noses with little to no reprecussions. Smh

    March 3, 2010 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  20. whaley41

    There must be something in the drinking water in Washington. When politicians get to Washington, corruption sets in. And monk, those comments are old and tired, all politicians do it!

    March 3, 2010 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  21. Elliott Carlin


    At least he gets the pension.


    March 3, 2010 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  22. Texas Jack

    Well get out of congress. You can not handle the job the public pays you for. Especially since you're a Democrat also.

    March 3, 2010 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  23. valwayne

    Nancy Pelosi is just running the most corrupt House in a century she is running the most corrupt BAWDY HOUSE!!!! So much for her promise to drain the swamp. Apparently the drain has gotten plugged and she's up to her eyebrows in swamp water. Not that it makes any difference to her. She's too busy spending trillions and trillions of dollars we don't have!!!!!

    March 3, 2010 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  24. GAK

    Republican Party;ie; The Grand Old Party,why because they know how to lie,cheat,steal and are the BIGGEST hypocrites around!!.Not to mention will quit when the going gets tought(Palin),Cheat on a spouse(Gingrich),lie to the public(Cheney,Nixon and Agnew) Do the Democrats have theirs,sure they do Ed, but the GOP taught them how...!!!!

    March 3, 2010 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  25. Markus

    It is truly unfortunate that Rep. Massa decided not to run for reelection instead of running again and fighting these obviously fabricated charges...He is one of the very few representatives in Washington who is concerned with the plight of the working class people in this country and the future of our wouldnt surprise me one bit if this whole charade was a setup...Democrats try to live their lives as humble as possible, and not preach about family values while thier own children become porn stars and criminals(not to mention any names like Ronald Reagan)

    March 3, 2010 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
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