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WaPo: Rep. Eric Massa's staff "tolerated a frat house environment full of sex talk and lewd behavior"

I have no reason to doubt Rep. Eric Massa's sincerity about his cancer diagnosis, but the real reason behind his sudden resignation last month is now becoming painfully clear:

Just three months after Eric Massa was elected to Congress, his young male employees on Capitol Hill began complaining to supervisors that the lawmaker was making aggressive, sexual overtures toward them, according to new interviews and internal documents.

The senior staff, one of whom said he heard Massa (D-N.Y.) making lewd remarks to young staffers, tried to manage the problem internally. But reports of Massa's inappropriate behavior continued, leaving junior workers feeling helpless, according to victims, other staffers and sources close to an ongoing House ethics investigation. Most asked not to be named due to the ethics probe and the risk of hurting their job prospects.

This account, drawn from more than two dozen interviews and internal documents, shows that aides were accusing the 50-year-old married lawmaker of far more egregious behavior than previously known. Beginning in March 2009 and over the next several months, male staffers complained that their boss had touched them in a sexual manner, came up with reasons to have staffers travel alone with him on overnight trips, and expressed a desire to have sex with the men in the office.

But it wasn't until after a year of staff complaints -- when allegations about Massa's behavior threatened to become a public embarrassment -- that supervisors alerted congressional leaders to the problem. That led House leadership to demand the matter be referred to the ethics committee. Massa resigned a few weeks later when the media reported he was the subject of a harassment probe. He declined to comment for this story.

On Tuesday, in response to an earlier version of this article, House Minority Leader John Boehner called on the ethics committee to delve deeply into how such allegations could continue for a year with no relief for staff.

"It is now readily apparent that Congressman Massa's pattern of troubling behavior continued long after Democrats first became aware of his conduct," Boehner said. "Speaker Pelosi's staff has acknowledged they knew about problems in Mr. Massa's office back in the fall of 2009. What action, if any, did the Speaker and the Democratic leadership take to protect Rep. Massa's subordinates from harassment and abuse?"

Good question, Rep. Boehner. After all, Her Highness was a leading member of the "what did the Speaker know and when did he know it" crusade against Dennis Hastert back when the Mark Foley scandal broke just before the 2006 elections. Does the "special trust" between Congressmen and staffers only exist when Republicans control the House of Representatives? Aren't the "children who work as pages" just as precious now that Democrats are in charge of Congress? In fact, isn't protecting "the children" the primary goal of everything the Democrats do?

Speaker Pelosi? Anyone?

A formal House Ethics Committee investigation of Massa has already been approved by privileged resolution. Speaker Pelosi certainly wouldn't compromise the safety of teenage Congressional pages just to improve the Democrats' chances at the polls in November, would she?


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Comments (18)

The only Frat's I can think... (Below threshold)
epador:

The only Frat's I can think of that that stuff would be tolerated at are Delta Lambda Phi and Sigma Phi Beta, and I bet even they would object. Unless there was a keg or two present.

So Massa was a member of Ph... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

So Massa was a member of Phi Alpha Gamma. I assume half of the Democrats are at least pledges there.

Massa should have been drum... (Below threshold)
James H:

Massa should have been drummed out of the House (or at least the House Democratic Caucus) as soon as these accusations came up. Overall, this scandal tells me the Democrats learned nothing from the Ballad of Mark Foley.

Which brings me to a bit of a pickle. The Democrats have demonstrated that holding onto power is more important than purging people like Massa. Yet, the Republicans have tolerated twits like Mark Foley in their ranks for the sake of retaining power.

Which leaves me wondering about 2010 ... which of these parties can I vote for?

"The Democrats have demonst... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

"The Democrats have demonstrated that holding onto power is more important than purging people like Massa."

I'm sure Madam Speaker will come up with a good excuse. Something along the lines of ".....my staff never informed me...." Worked before.

"WaPo: Rep. Eric Massa's... (Below threshold)
914:

"WaPo: Rep. Eric Massa's staff "tolerated a frat house environment full of sex talk and lewd behavior"

In other words... Al Franken was the life of the party.

What did the Speaker know a... (Below threshold)
Neo:

What did the Speaker know and when did she forget it ?

Pelosi merely acted within ... (Below threshold)
Jim Addison:

Pelosi merely acted within the standard Marxist practice: as long as Massa was dependable as a political ally, his personal predilections were tolerated, even abetted.

He voted for the stimulus, but was later critical of how the money was being spent in New York. That wasn't so much trouble, because the vote is what counts on the Hill, and members often have to backtrack on votes to appease constituents. But he also voted against the ObamaCare bill, even though it was dissent from the left (he was a diehard single-payer supporter), and was in question on the Senate bill, so Pelosi stopped covering his asp and he was forced out.

Corrupt NY Governor David Patterson made sure no special election could fill the seat with another "NO" vote.

So, you see, justice was served, as Comrade Pelosi defines the term.

Pelosi merely acte... (Below threshold)
Brett:
Pelosi merely acted within the standard Marxist practice: as long as Massa was dependable as a political ally, his personal predilections were tolerated, even abetted.

Just tolerated and abetted!? Homosexual shenanigans in the halls of Congress could make him the Democrat poster boy. Just look at that diversity!

And anyway, everybody knows that sexual harassment only applies when it's a man harassing a woman, and the man has to be a conservative.

"And anyway, everybody k... (Below threshold)
914:

"And anyway, everybody knows that sexual harassment only applies when it's a man harassing a woman, and the man has to be a conservative."

B.I.N.G.O. !!!

Can't this be blamed on the... (Below threshold)
Burt:

Can't this be blamed on the Pope?

And this type of man is mak... (Below threshold)
mag:

And this type of man is making decision and voting on things that we affect our lives and future lives. Totally disgusting.

"Make 'em play by their own... (Below threshold)
glenn:

"Make 'em play by their own rules"

Some years ago after a real "hand on" incident of harassment in a company where I worked all the managers had to attend some training sessions. Which actually turned out to be very good and informative. It appeared to me at the time that there was no objective standard for the sort of "locker room, frat house" stuff that often leads to claims being made. Harassment is totally in the eye of the victim. And the Dems wrote the law. So if a Dem goes over the side because he/she allowed/encouraged language or behavior in his/her office that a "victim" found objectionable, "Oh well" Rep Massa can join all the private sector guys who have had careers aborted because they said something they shouldn't have.

Apropos #12 above: Two guys... (Below threshold)

Apropos #12 above: Two guys share a joke, but a third-party troublemaker gets involved. Hilarity ensues. :-/

So, if we can get the libs entangled in their own snares, it can only be for the good.

The guy is a garden variety... (Below threshold)
OLDPUPPYMAX:

The guy is a garden variety, homosexual pervert.

"Speaker Pelosi certainl... (Below threshold)
Not Oyster:

"Speaker Pelosi certainly wouldn't compromise the safety of teenage Congressional pages just to improve the Democrats' chances at the polls in November, would she?"

I'm pretty sure that's a rhetorical question. But just in case ....

Yes! Yes she would.

Not to rain on your false e... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Not to rain on your false equivalence parade, but are there any allegations regarding teenage pages?

No?

None at all?

Sexual harassment is bad enough, but grownups are grownups and teenagers aren't. As the father of two teenagers, I'll tell you this: I'm pretty sure I could handle the crap a guy like Massa could dish out, but if someone tried that shit with my daughters, he'd have serious trouble with me.

You are right Bruce. This ... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

You are right Bruce. This is nothing like the Studds scenario!

"but if someone tried t... (Below threshold)
914:

"but if someone tried that shit with my daughters, he'd have serious trouble with me."

Yeah, you'd pull a Dukakis




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