When Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY) left Congress amid a cloud of charges that he inappropriately touched and sexually harassed a male staffer, most of his Democratic colleagues hoped the issue would fade away — or at least disappear from public view.
But the House Ethics Committee announced Friday that it has voted to continue an investigation it began last year.Back when the charges of sexual harassment first surfaced, Massa responded by conducting a bizarre round of cable interviews in which he admitted to “tickle fights” with staff and other strange behavior. His attempt to shoot down the story only fueled the fire.
Three days after Massa resigned, then-Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) introduced a resolution demanding the ethics panel issue a final report on the scandal by June 30, 2010. The panel was looking into who among the House Democratic leadership knew about allegations of sexually inappropriate conduct between Massa and his staff, and when they knew it.
But Boehner’s measure and its mandate have since languished as the Ethics Committee became bogged down in partisan infighting over Rep. Maxine Waters’ (D-CA) case.
The panel only recently hired a chief counsel and hired attorneys and aides to fill a mass of vacancies that had been open since staff began leaving the committee en masse last year amid the dysfunction. Meanwhile, the Massa case, as well as several others, including Waters’, have laid dormant.