A conservative legal group that previously has targeted Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) now is going after another Democrat — Eric Massa.
The National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) yesterday filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, charging that payments from the former New York congressman’s campaign — one to a former top aide, and another for a car — broke campaign laws.
Federal records show that in the days before Massa resigned last month, a payment of $40,000 was made to his then chief-of-staff, Joe Racalto. Racalto reportedly had confronted Massa about sexual harassment allegations from junior staffers — and this week himself filed a sexual harassment charge against Massa. Racalto’s lawyer has said the payment to Racalto was for work on the congressman’s re-election campaign. Massa has said, through his own lawyer, that he never approved the payment, and that his signature had been forged. Sources familiar with Massa’s office have told the AP they were unaware of Racalto doing $40,000 worth of work on Massa’s campaign.
Records also show a payment of almost $32,000 from campaign funds to purchase a car just two days before Massa resigned. The payment, the complaint alleges, “hardly seems to be for the purpose of re-electing the resigning congressman - or any other allowable purpose.”
Last year, NLPC filed a congressional ethics complaint in regard to a Caribbean junket taken by Rangel. The New York congressman eventually stepped down as chair of the House Ways and Means committee amid a slew of ethics allegations, including some concerning the Caribbean trip.