The House Ethics committee’s probe into the Eric Massa affair appears to be focused on whether other members or Hill staffers acted appropriately after receiving complaints about Massa’s behavior.
After Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s office was made aware of the allegations against Massa in February, Massa aides were given 48 hours to notify the ethics committee. Hoyer met yesterday with investigators for the panel and released a statement noting that he has “moved to strengthen protections for staff in the wake of this incident.”
And aide to Speaker Nancy Pelosi was told last fall that some Massa aides had concerns about Massa’s conduct, but it’s unclear whether they were made aware of any specific allegations of wrong-doing. Pelosi told reporters this afternoon that she had “no concerns whatsoever” about the leadership’s response and pledged to meet with investigators.
Democrats benefited in 2006 when GOP leaders were accused of failing to respond properly after being told of allegations that then-congressman Mark Foley was hitting on teenage congressional pages.
Massa, a New York Democrat, resigned from Congress last month after allegations surfaced that he had sexually harassed male staffers. That would complicate any Ethics committee investigation into potential wrongdoing by by him personally. But the FBI is reportedly now probing payments made from Massa’s campaign account in the days before he stpped down — one of $40,000 to a top aide, Joe Racalto, and one of around $38,000 for a campaign car. Massa claims he never approved the payment to Racalto. Racalto also has filed a complaint charging that Massa sexually harassed him.