Massa Retiring Amid Allegations of Misconduct

March 4, 2010

Representative Eric J. Massa, an outspoken freshman Democrat from a Republican-leaning district in upstate New York, abruptly announced Wednesday that he would retire, as he faced allegations that he had harassed a member of his staff.
The decision blindsided Democratic leaders in Washington, who are already facing a brutal political climate as they try to defend the party’s majority in the midterm elections in November. The retirement gives Republicans a prime opportunity to recapture a House seat they narrowly lost in 2008, and adds to the travails of New York Democrats, already reeling from two ethics scandals: one that threatens Gov. David A. Paterson’s political career and the other that has forced Representative Charles B. Rangel to step down from his post as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.
Mr. Massa’s decision came after an aide complained to the House ethics committee that Mr. Massa had harassed him, according to a senior Congressional official who would speak only on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter.
In a brief statement Wednesday night, Representative Steny H. Hoyer, the House Democratic majority leader from Maryland, confirmed that the ethics panel was investigating the allegations against Mr. Massa.

Read more: (David M. Halbfinger and Raymond Hernandez, “Upstate Democrat Retiring Amid Allegations of Misconduct,” The New York Times, 03/04/10)