A House ethics panel has dropped its probe of former congressman Eric Massa, but the story isn’t quite over. It now appears that members of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s staff knew about concerns with Massa’s behavior toward his staff as early as October 2009, months before Majority Leader Steny Hoyer set an ethics investigation in motion.
A Pelosi aide told POLITICO on Wednesday evening that Massa’s chief of staff, Joe Racalto, informed a member of Pelosi’s “member services” operation in October that Massa was living with several aides, had hired too many staff members and used foul language around his staff.
Racalto also raised concerns about “the way Massa ran his office” and informed Pelosi’s member-services staffer that he had asked Massa to move out of the group house on Capitol Hill, the Pelosi aide said.
Democratic insiders say Pelosi’s office took no action after Racalto expressed his concerns about his then-boss in October.
Hoyer’s aides say he was informed of sexual-harassment allegations against Massa by Ron Hikel, another Massa aide, Feb. 8 and gave the New York Democrat’s office an ultimatum: Take the charges to the ethics committee within 48 hours, or Hoyer would.
Pelosi’s aide said that Hoyer’s office shared those allegations with a senior Pelosi staffer in February and that “the staff concurred that an ethics investigation was the proper course of action and were assured one would be initiated.”
When the allegations about Massa became widely known last week, Pelosi told reporters that her staff was aware only of isolated “rumors.”
“I asked my staff, I said, ‘Have there been any rumors about any of this before?’” Pelosi said last week. “There had been a rumor, but just that, no formal notification to our office that anything — a one-, two-, three-person-removed rumor that had been reported to Mr. Hoyer’s office that had been reported to my staff, which they didn’t report to me, because, you know what? This is rumor city. Every single day there are rumors. I have a job to do and not to be the receiver of rumors.”
House Republicans are considering bringing a resolution to the floor calling for the Massa inquiry to be reopened, and to include investigation of what House leadership knew and when they knew it.