Massa Says Harrassment Story ‘Totally False’ And Says He’s A ‘Salty Old Sailor’

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March 3, 2010 11:41 a.m.

TPMDC’s Brian Beutler waited outside Rep. Eric Massa’s office this afternoon in an attempt to get more than the short statement the Democrat read to reporters on the phone earlier.

Massa (D-NY) read a similar statement about his decision not to seek reelection to reporters staking out his Longworth office, and took no questions. Afterward, Brian chased him down the hallway to ask further about the allegations of harassment from a male staffer. Massa denied it and offered one more comment.

“I made my statement. The allegations are totally false. I’m a salty old sailor. That’s that,” Massa said.In an earlier conference call with reporters, Massa noted that he’d been hospitalized in December with a third “cancer scare.” This afternoon, outside his office, he admitted he’d withheld this information from his staff.

“I kept this private, and I told only members of my immediate family. I did not tell my staff,” Massa said.

On the call he didn’t explicitly deny reports of harassment by a male staffer but did rebuke the press. Massa said the reports are “unsubstantiated without fact or backing” and “are a symptom of what’s wrong with this city.”

“Do I or have I ever used salty language especially when I’m angry, in the privacy of my inner office or at home? Yes I have and I’ve apologized where it’s appropriate,” Massa said on the call.

Additional reporting by Evan McMorris-Santoro

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