Former Congressman Eric Massa is the gift that keeps on giving. Now the FBI, Justice Department and the House Ethics Committee have each launched probes into the Massa’s conduct as a Congressman, is looking into allegations of sexual impropriety by Massa (groping his male staff) the misuse of $40,000 worth of campaign dollars.
Its been almost two months since Massa resigned his house seat, first claiming it was a re-occurrence of his cancer, then blaming it dirty tricks directed at him by House Democratic leadership because he voted against Obamacare. He claimed that the house leadership was using the ethics committee to get back at him. Massa then went on to make other dirty trick charges regarding the House leadership all of which turned out to be nonsense.
The charges that had some legs were the ones being made against Massa, that he sexually harassed some of his male staffers, which Massa contended involved only one incident, which he described on the Glenn Beck show as:
Not only did I grope him I tickled him until he couldn’t breathe and then four guys jumped on top of me. It was my 50th birthday, it was kill the old guy. You can take anything out of context.”
Gee, when we had a 50th birthday celebration for me in my office, we didn’t have any tickle fights.
That charge was followed up with one that accused him of being inappropriate as a Navy Officer.Joshua Green reported :
According to Peter Clarke, a Navy shipmate, Massa was notorious for making unwanted advances toward [male] subordinates. He tells the story of his friend Stuart Borsch, with whom Massa shared a hotel room while on leave during the first Gulf War. “Stuart’s at the edge of the bed,” Clarke says Borsch told him at the time, “and [Massa] starts massaging him. Massa said, ‘You’ll have to get one of my special massages.’ He called them ‘Massa Massages.'” Ron Moss, a Navy shipmate and Borsch’s roommate, confirmed that Borsch told him this story at the time.
Two weeks ago the Washington Post published a story revealing that Massa’s problems in Congress stemmed from much more than just one tickle fight. The charges, if true, show Massa as a sexual predator. As soon as got comfortable in his office Massa started harassing the most vulnerable on his staff, he started making inappropriate lewd statements to his most junior staffers. That was only the beginning, according to the report, it led to unwanted groping of some of his male staffers who were afraid to cry foul, lest they lose their jobs.
Today the House Ethics comittee made the unusual step of announcing an investigation of Eric Massa even though he was out of office. The investigation is much broader than than a search for Massa’s wrongdoings
…Members, officers or employees of the House of Representatives had or may have had personal knowledge, or were or may have been aware by or through other persons, of such alleged or actual conduct on the part of former Representative Eric Massa that was in violation of laws, rules, regulations or other standards of conduct applicable to his conduct in the performance of his duties…”
“Members, officers or employees of the House of Representatives may have failed to properly report or fully disclose allegations of such misconduct…“
“… Monies or other payments may have been misappropriated, or otherwise fraudulently or improperly distributed or received in violation of laws, rules, regulations or other standards of conduct…”
The last point is regarding that $40,000 of campaign funds Massa supposedly gave his Chief of Staff the day after his resignation announcement. The Chief of Staff says it was for campaign work for which he was never paid, Massa denies he ever gave the staffer the money and others suspect that it was hush money paid to the Chief of Staff (the full Ethics Committee press release is at the end of this post.
According to the Washington Post, the FBI and Justice Department prosecutors are following the money, not only the $40,000 to his top aid, but money used to renew the lease for the congressman’s personal car, within days of his retirement announcement.
Federal prosecutors served a former Massa staffer with a Justice Department request to preserve all his phone records, e-mail and Blackberry accounts and other documents relating to Massa’s campaign and congressional office.
On March 3, Massa announced that he was retiring amid reports that the House ethics committee was investigating allegations he sexually harassed and groped his young male staffers.
The following day, Massa’s campaign paid $40,000 to his chief of staff Joe Racalto, a critical witness in the ethics probe, The Post reported last week. The campaign also paid $39,000 to renew a car lease for a campaign vehicle he drives.
Massa has said he did not authorize the $40,000 payment, and he has accused Racalto of telling the campaign comptroller, incorrectly, that the fee had been approved. Racalto has said he was owed the $40,000 under a long-standing agreement to be paid for ongoing political work on the campaign.
It looks as if “Tickle-Me-Massa” will be news for a very long time. On the bright side (for him) he may have just earned a spot on Celebrity Apprentice just like former Illinois Governor Blago.
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