A spokeswoman for Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is dismissing charges by Rep. Eric Massa that Hoyer lied about how an allegation of harassment was brought to the House ethics panel.
On his radio show yesterday, Massa claimed that “Steny Hoyer has never said a single word to me at all, not ever, not once. Not a word. This is a lie. It’s a blatant false statement.”
Hoyer spokeswoman Katie Grant tells TPM, “That’s completely false. There is zero merit to that accusation.”
At issue are the questions of when and how the allegation of harassment was brought to the ethics committee. Massa maintained yesterday that he had never heard of the allegation until after he announced he was not seeking reelection on March 3. He accuses the Democratic leadership of orchestrating the allegation to force him to immediately resign, as a way to more easily pass health care reform.
But Hoyer never claimed that he spoke to Massa.
His spokeswoman pointed back to a statement Hoyer made on the matter several days ago. In it, Hoyer says that the allegation was brought to the ethics panel the week of Feb. 8, after it was brought to the attention of Hoyer and his staff.
Hoyer does not say that he directly spoke with Massa, only that he “instructed his staff that if Mr. Massa or his staff did not bring the matter to the attention of the bipartisan Ethics Committee within 48 hours, Mr. Hoyer would do so.”
Here’s the full statement:
The week of February 8th, a member of Rep. Massa’s staff brought to the attention of Mr. Hoyer’s staff allegations of misconduct that had been made against Mr. Massa. Mr. Hoyer’s staff immediately informed him of what they had been told. Mr. Hoyer instructed his staff that if Mr. Massa or his staff did not bring the matter to the attention of the bipartisan Ethics Committee within 48 hours, Mr. Hoyer would do so. 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. 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.
(Additional reporting by Christina Bellantoni.)