Today's scandal is actually a bit of a flashback.In between making racist remarks, Rep. Clyburn had argued that Conyers can't be expected to resign because unlike Matt Lauer, he was elected, not employed. In that case, I have a novel proposition. The burden of these settlements shouldn't fall on taxpayers around the country, but on those in a particular politician's distract. And, preferably, those who voted for him. They are after all his employers.
Today's scandal is actually a bit of a flashback.
The Congressional Office of Compliance secretly paid close to $100,000 in taxpayer funds to settle sexual harassment claims from at least two young male staffers who worked for disgraced former Congressman Eric Massa, multiple sources with direct knowledge of the matter told ABC News.
The claims were settled after Massa, a Democrat from upstate New York, resigned in 2010 amid a pending ethics investigation into allegations he groped and sexually harassed members of his staff.
Shortly after his resignation in March 2010, Massa admitted in interviews he was "guilty" of engaging in inappropriate behavior with his staff, but said that he did nothing sexual and nothing criminal. In an interview with Fox News at the time of the scandal he admitted to groping one of his staff members.
Massa was the surprisingly creepy Wesley Clark aide. If he had been a Republican, you would be more likely to have heard of him. But he was quite a character.
Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) addressed an intimate group of Netroots activists during their annual Netroots Nation gathering in Pittsburgh this weekend. Mr. Massa reiterated his support for a single-payer health care bill. He discussed the risks he takes for wanting to support such a measure in his "right-wing Republican district."
MASSA: I’m not going to vote for 3200 as it’s currently written. Step one, I will vote for a single payer option or a bill that does have a medicare coupled public option, which we don’t have right now. If my town hall meetings turn into the same media frenzies and ridiculousness, because every time that happens we lose. We lose another three million people in America. They see that happening and negate us.
PARTICIPANT: It changes the narrative.
MASSA: Every time that occurs. So what happens in my town hall meetings frankly is important, because I am in one of the most right wing Republican districts in the country, and I’m not asking you guys to go back to wherever and send people to me. This is a generic statement of 'what can I do?' Well that’s one thing we can do.
PARTICIPANT: So if we got your meetings to sixty forty, you’d vote…and there was single payer in a bill you would vote for it?
MASSA: Oh absolutely I would vote for single payer.
PARTICIPANT: If there was sixty forty sentiment in the room?
MASSA: Listen, I tell every audience I’m in favor of single payer.
PARTICIPANT: If there was eighty twenty in the room?
MASSA: If there was a single payer bill?
PARTICIPANT: And there was a single payer….
MASSA: I will vote for the single payer bill.
PARTICIPANT: Even if it meant you were being voted out of office?
MASSA: I will vote adamantly against the interests of my district if I actually think what I am doing is going to be helpful.
Massa blamed his opposition to ObamaCare (because it wasn't Socialist enough) on the scandal.
He reserved his most excoriating stuff for Emanuel, whom he called "son of the devil's spawn" on his weekly radio show Sunday.
"He is an individual who would sell his mother to get a vote. He would strap his children to a front end of a steam locomotive," Massa said. Illustrating his point, he told the story of how he winded up in an argument with the chief of staff while they were both naked in the congressional gym showers.
"I'm sitting there showering, naked as a jaybird, and here comes Rahm Emanuel, not even with a towel wrapped around his tush, poking his finger in my chest, yelling at me because I wasn't gonna vote for the president's budget," Massa said. "Do you know how awkward it is to have a political argument with a naked man? ... It's ridiculous."
And yes, it gets weirder from there.
Massa said the incident that got him in trouble, and supposedly gave his rivals leverage against him, occurred at a staff member's wedding reception on New Year's Eve.
"I was with my wife. And in fact we had a great time. She got the stomach flu," he said.
Massa said he had just gotten up to sing Auld Lang Syne and had finished dancing with the bride and bridesmaid -- in full view of cameras -- when he sat back down at a table with male staff members.
That's when he made the "inappropriate" remark.
"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.
"And I grabbed the staff member sitting next to me and said, 'Well, what I really ought to be doing is fracking you,'" he said.
"And then [I] tousled 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."
We really could have amortized this guy's cost by turning him into an Amazon Prime series. And there were plenty of costs beyond the $100K.
During the three years since Rep. Eric Massa resigned his congressional seat after male staffers accused him of sexual harassment, the Upstate New York Democrat has paid his wife — and campaign treasurer — a monthly salary from his dormant re-election account.
Congress. It's nice work if you can get it.
But the whole mess wouldn't be complete without a Pelosi flashback.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called Massa a "very sick person" in an interview with Charlie Rose set to air tonight.
"He has been diagnosed with cancer," she said. "Perhaps his judgment is impaired because of the ethical issues that have arisen, and he is no longer in the Congress."
Charlie Rose. Those were the days.
ABOUT DANIEL GREENFIELD
Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.
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