Rep. Eric Massa, the embattled New York freshman who just this week announced he wouldn’t be running for reelection, will announce his retirement this coming Monday at 5pm. Massa said in announcing his retirement that it was due to the return of his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which has been in remission.
The House Ethics Committee has also been investigating Massa for allegedly sexually harassing a young male staffer. Massa has acknowledged using “salty language” but denied the harassment claims. Dems have been anxious for this story line to go away, though Massa’s office gave no immediate reason for his decision to leave now versus next January.
His resignation means brings down the number of votes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi needs to pass health care reform to 216 (Massa was a “Nay” on health care reform because he supports a single payer system). Georgia Rep. Nathan Deal, a Republican, this week announced that he would postpone his run for Georgia’s governor’s mansion by a month to force Pelosi to get 217 votes but Massa’s resignation cancels that move out.
In an open letter on his website, Massa says he was not aware of the ethics investigation until after he announced his retirement but the investigation is what’s prompting him to resign. An excerpt:
I own this reality. There is no doubt in my mind that I did in fact, use language in the privacy of my own home and in my inner office that, after 24 years in the Navy, might make a Chief Petty Officer feel uncomfortable. In fact, there is no doubt that this Ethics issue is my fault and mine alone. But in the incredibly toxic atmosphere that is Washington D.C., with the destruction of our elected leaders having become a blood sport, especially in talk radio and on the internet, there is also no doubt that an Ethics investigation would tear my family and my staff apart. Some would say that this is what happens when you stand apart from political parties, which I have done. Others will say that this is what happens to a non politician when they go to Washington DC. I want to make something perfectly clear. My difficulties are of my own making. Period. I am also aware that blogs and radio will have a field day with this in today’s destructive and unforgiving political environment. In that investigators would be free to ask anything about me going back to my birth, I simply cannot rise to that level of perfection. God knows that I am a deeply flawed and imperfect person.