What a mess…
The accusations are flying thick and fast between ex-congressman Eric Massa and his former chief of staff. Last Friday the aide, Joe Racalto, accused Massa of sexually harassing him. For his part, Massa has said that Racalto tricked other aides into approving a $40,000 payment to Racalto from Massa’s campaign funds — a charge Racalto has denied.
Massa, a New York Democrat, resigned from Congress last month amid allegations that he sexually harassed male staffers. Racalto reportedly had confronted Massa after receiving sexual harassment complaints from junior staffers, and was interviewed by the House ethics committee on the subject. And on Friday, Racalto’s lawyer said that Racalto had himself filed a sexual harassment claim against Massa.
But there’s more. As we reported Friday, the day after Massa resigned, a $40,000 payment was made from his campaign funds to Racalto. On Saturday, Massa’s lawyer, Milo Silberstein, speaking to the Washington Post, accused Racalto of falsely telling the campaign’s lawyer and comptroller that Massa had approved the money “when he had not.” Racalto, through his lawyer, said the money was a deferred payment for work done on Massa’s aborted 2010 re-election campaign, and that Massa had indeed approved it.
Racalto’s lawyer, Camilla McKinney, accused Massa of trying to “discredit” Racalto in the wake of the sexual harassment charge.
And there’s another wrinkle: Massa is also claiming, through Silberstein, that someone forged his signature so as to increase Racalto’s congressional salary from $120,000 to $160,000. Silberstein said Massa would provide information “to the proper authorities.” McKinney said Racalto was entitled to the pay raise.
Racalto has not publicly spelled out the precise nature of the harassment charges he has filed against his one-time boss. Neither Silberstein nor McKinney responded immediately to requests for comment.