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Massa Details Nature Of Harassment Charge, Suggests Plot Against Him

Eric Massa hosted his weekly radio show on his last day as the Congressman and intimated that the Democratic Party pushed him out of his seat to pick up a vote on health care. He also detailed the charges against him and said he would perhaps rescind his resignation if the move to toss him from Congress became a “national story.”

You can listen to the audio at this link. Roll Call provided a rough transcript of Massa retelling the incident in question.

“On new Year’s Eve, I went to a staff party. It was actually a wedding for a staff member of mine; there were over 250 people there. I was with my wife. And in fact we had a great time. She got the stomach flu,” he said.

Massa explained that he then danced first with the bride, who was not identified, and then with a bridesmaid. He said multiple cameras recorded the incident.

“I said goodnight to the bridesmaid,” Massa continued. “I sat down at the table where my whole staff was, all of them by the way bachelors.”

“One of them looked at me and as they would do after, I don’t know, 15 gin and tonics, and goodness only knows how many bottles of champagne, a staff member made an intonation to me that maybe I should be chasing after the bridesmaid and his points were clear and his words were far more colorful than that,” Massa said. “And I grabbed the staff member sitting next to me and said, ‘Well, what I really ought to be doing is fracking you.’ And then [I] tossled the guy’s hair and left, went to my room, because I knew the party was getting to a point where it wasn’t right for me to be there. Now was that inappropriate of me? Absolutely. Am I guilty? Yes.”

Massa claimed that the staffer who reported the incident to the Ethics Committee was not the subject of the comment, but someone else at the table.

Massa later said that he hadn’t realized the mathematics of how his resignation would help get the health care bill passed until after his announcement on Friday afternoon. He said that “Mine is now the deciding vote on the health care bill, and this administration and this House leadership have said, quote unquote, they will stop at nothing to pass this health care bill. And now they’ve gotten rid of me and it’ll pass.”

Well, if his was the deciding vote they wouldn’t be talking so intensely with Bart Stupak. Massa has the same inflated sense of self that all Congressmen presumably have. But the story is plausible and consistent with where this seemed to be going all along. I think the leadership had multiple reasons to dump Massa, primarily the appearance of taking control over a messy ethics probe. But the health care vote certainly didn’t hurt. If Massa were a committed “yes” maybe things play out differently.

Later in the show, Massa addressed events in his Navy career which a right-wing radio host blogged about, insisting they were misunderstandings. And he detailed a conversation with Rahm Emanuel after the climate change bill vote:

“When I voted against the cap and trade bill, the phone rang and it was the chief of staff to the president of the United States of America, Rahm Emanuel, and he started swearing at me in terms and words that I hadn’t heard since that crossing the line ceremony on the USS New Jersey in 1983,” Massa said. “And I gave it right back to him, in terms and words that I know are physically impossible.”

“If Rahm Emanuel wants to come after me, maybe he ought to hold himself to the same standards I’m holding myself to and he should resign,” Massa said.

Massa also accused Steny Hoyer of lying about the investigation when he said that he told Massa’s office to file the allegations with the Ethics Committee. “Steny Hoyer has never said a single word to me at all, never, not once. Never before in the history of the House of Representatives has a sitting leader of the Democratic Party discussed allegations of House investigations publicly, before findings of fact. Ever.”

Massa actually hinted that he could rescind his resignation, though he backed off on that statement later in the program.

I don’t know what the facts are, but certainly this re-opens a case that Democratic leaders probably wanted closed.

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David Dayen

David Dayen