Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY), who is resigning later today, said on his radio show Sunday that he made an “inappropriate” sexual remark to a male aide at a New Year’s Eve wedding party.
It’s the first time Massa has given a detailed account of the events that he says led to the allegation of sexual harassment against him. Politico has reported that the married Massa “made unwanted advances toward a junior male staffer.”
In Massa’s telling, he was at a wedding party and sat down with a group of bachelor staffers, after his wife went home sick and after Massa danced with the bride and a bridesmaid. Here’s what Massa says happened next, Roll Call reports:
“One of them looked at me and as they would do after, I don’t know, 15 gin and tonics, and goodness only knows how many bottles of champagne, a staff member made an intonation to me that maybe I should be chasing after the bridesmaid and his points were clear and his words were far more colorful than that. And I grabbed the staff member sitting next to me and said, ‘Well, what I really ought to be doing is fracking you.’ And then [I] tossled 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. Now was that inappropriate of me? Absolutely. Am I guilty? Yes.”
The congressman, a Navy veteran, has previously said with regard to the allegations: “I’m a salty old sailor. That’s that.”
Below is a clip of Massa’s remarks. You can listen to the full audio of Massa’s remarks on Sunday here.
He also said on the radio show that the staffer in question did not tell Massa that the episode made the staffer uncomfortable. Massa says it was another aide who took offense — “a third-party political correctness statement.”
And he accused the Democratic leadership of orchestrating the harassment allegation to force Massa — a no vote on health care — immediately out of Congress.
The ethics committee said last week it is investigating unspecified “allegations” against Massa. But once Massa resigns, he will be out of the committee’s jurisdiction and the probe will end.
The staffer who is the alleged victim of harassment has not made any public statements.
Massa announced March 3 — before the existence of the allegations was reported — that he would not seek reelection for health reasons.
Late Update: We have more here on Massa’s charges against the Democratic leadership.