Ethics Panel Probing Massa Allegations

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April 21, 2010 9:58 a.m.

The House Ethics committee has opened a “full and complete investigation” into the sexual harassment and improper payment allegations involving former congressman Eric Massa, it just announced.

The allegations surrounding Massa “are serious and warrant a full and complete investigation,” the committee announced. The New York Democrat stepped down last month amid allegations that he sexually harassed staffers. Since then, questions have been raised about a $40,000 payment made to Massa’s top aide, Joe Racalto. Racalto had confronted Massa about the harassment allegations, and last week filed a complaint charging that he too had been sexually harassed.The committee’s statement suggests that its probe will focus more on the response to the allegations from other lawmakers and staff members, rather than on Massa himself — perhaps because it’s more difficult for the committee to investigate a former member. The panel will consider whether other members or staff had knowledge of Massa’s misconduct, and failed to properly report it, and will look into “whether monies or other payments may have been misappropriated.”

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