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UPDATE: The Daily Caller reports that the House GOP will introduce a privileged resolution calling on the Ethics Committee to investigate Pelosi’s and Hoyer’s handling of the Massa allegations. Specifically, the resolution calls on the committee to find out what the Democratic leadserhip knew about Massa, when they knew it, and what they did – or didn’t do – about it.
Good for the House GOP. This is exactly what Democrats would have done had the roles been reversed. And I think it’s safe to say now that this action officially makes the Massa allegations a scandal and a campaign issue. As they should be.
UPDATE 2: The GOP resolution passed the House on a vote of 402-2. No Democrats voted against the resolution, which means shenanigans are afoot. It is now up to the House GOP to keep Democrats honest on this.
The Eric Massa sideshow just became a full-fledged election year scandal aimed like a dagger directly at the Democrats’ House majority. Numerous press outlets are now reporting that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office was informed in October of last year about the former New York representative’s odd behavior with male subordinates.
Joe Racalto, Massa’s chief of staff, was uneasy that Massa, 50, was living with several young, unmarried male staffers and using sexually explicit language with them, one source said. But what finally prompted him to call Pelosi’s director of member services, the source said, was a lunch date that Massa made with a congressional aide in his 20s who worked in the office of Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.).
According to a person briefed on the call, Racalto was concerned that the lunch followed a pattern by Massa — who is married and has two children — of trying to spend time alone with young gay men with no ostensible work purpose. Racalto, according to this person, also alerted Frank’s chief of staff. The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the political sensitivity of the matter.
Last week, Pelosi said the she first heard of concerns about Massa’s behavior in early March. Pelosi said her staff did not inform her of every rumor about members of Congress. But that explanation is no longer operative, since this was not a rumor that her staff picked up. It was a plea for intervention by none other than the member’s chief of staff, his highest ranking aide.
Pelosi’s “hear no evil” act is now about as believable as her pledge to run the “most ethical Congress in history.” She knew, and chose to do nothing.
Once upon a time, Pelosi was harshly critical of a House leadership which she said should have known about former congressman Mark Foley’s interactions with young male House pages.
“The children who work as Pages in the Congress are Members’ special trust. Statements by the Republican Leadership indicate that they violated this trust when they were made aware of the internet stalking of an underage Page by Mr. Foley and covered it up for six months to a year.
Many junior staffers in congressional offices are young people, fresh out of college. Although they are not children, they are deserving of protection from sex starved congressmen who seek to use their high position to score a bit more than campaign contributions.
Yet Pelosi did nothing. For six months she and her office looked the other way as Massa shared a house with five staffers and abused his official position to try and bed young male staffers on his and other members’ staffs. Pelosi’s failure to do anything to stop Massa’s behavior once his Chief of Staff made her office aware of it is unethical and shameful and casts a pall over the entire House.
Republicans are reportedly weighing a call for an investigation into Pelosi’s and Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s actions in handling the Massa allegations. And well they should. There will be charges of “politicization” and cries of “partisanship,” as Hoyer pre-emptively charged on the Sunday shows. But these criticisms should be seen for what they are: baseless attempts to distract from the issue at hand. Namely, the Democrats’ callous disregard for serious and credible allegations of behavior that meets the legal definition of sexual harrassment occurring in the people’s House.