In a disturbing story due to run in tomorrow's WaPo, it's emerged that there were complaints about Eric Massa's behavior with his staffers for a year prior to the current ethics probe.
Beginning in March 2009 and over the next several months, male staffers complained that their boss had touched them in a sexual manner, came up with reasons to have staffers travel alone with him on overnight trips, and expressed a desire to have sex with the men in the office.
But it wasn't until after a year of staff complaints -- when allegations about Massa's behavior threatened to become a public embarrassment -- that supervisors alerted congressional leaders to the problem. That led House leadership to demand the matter be referred to the ethics committee. Massa resigned a few weeks later when the media reported he was the subject of a harassment probe. He declined to comment for this story.
Massa's chief of staff and deputy chief of staff tried to keep their boss under control for a year, but by last fall it had gotten completely out of hand.
The story portrayed a history of lewd comments and behavior on Massa's part. It may have begun as early as the 2008 campaign. Massa's chief of staff, Joe Racalto, fell all over himself to rein in Massa's behavior. For instance, he ordered Massa to move out of a townhouse he shared with staffers, and ordered staffers to stop sexual talk in the office.
However, the straw that broke the camel's back came on February 2, with allegations Massa solicited a bartender for sex at a funeral reception for a young soldier who'd died in Afghanistan. The bartender also said Massa wanted to meet him for dinner in Buffalo. When Racalto confronted Massa about it, Massa said he was only trying to help the bartender get into law school. Racalto didn't buy it, and he and deputy chief of staff Ron Hikel alerted Steny Hoyer, who threatened to go to the ethics committee unless Massa's staff did so.
All that can be said for this is that one can only hope this isn't true. Massa sounded like a rising star.