Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) announced Monday that she won’t run for reelection, bowing to pressure to vacate the seat after badly mishandling a case of sexual harassment, domestic assault and threats between two senior staffers in her congressional office.
“I have determined that it is in the best interest of my constituents and my family to end my time in Congress at the end of this year and not seek re-election,” she said in a Facebook post. “Too many women have been harmed by harassment in the workplace. In the terrible situation in my office, I could have and should have done better. To the survivor, I want to express my strongest apology for letting you down.”
From being a room parent in a first grade classroom to serving on the library board, town council, state house and U.S….
Esty’s decision against running for reelection caps a rapid fall from grace for a woman who’d been viewed as a rising star within the House Democratic Caucus, who had a good relationship with House Democratic leaders and was a top voice for increased gun control as the representative of Newtown.
But that career came crashing down in recent days after revelations that she’d coddled her former chief of staff when another senior staffer accused him of sexual harassment, domestic violence and threats. A senior staffer accused her chief of staff of punching her and sexually harassing her, as well as leaving threatening voicemails that included one where he threatened to kill her if she didn’t call him back. Esty’s response was to keep him on the payroll for three whole months, giving him $5,000 in severance and helping him land another job at a gun control group.
The pressure has been building on Esty to resign since the story became public last week, with her hometown paper calling for her to step down over the weekend.
Esty’s decision to retire likely makes the seat easier to hold for Democrats. President Trump only lost her fairly blue-collar northwestern Connecticut district by 4 points, and she had two close elections in 2012 and 2014. An open-seat election in this district isn’t a lock for Democrats, but Esty insisted on running again the party might have seriously worried about holding the seat even in a year that’s shaping up to be a good one for the party.