By Frank James
The story of Rep. Eric Massa, the New York Democrat accused by a male staffer of harassment, took another turn Friday afternoon with the congressman announcing he will resign in a matter of days.
Earlier in the week, Massa had said he wouldn't seek re-election because of a recurrence of his non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma but left the clear impression he would serve out his term which ends when this Congress adjourns, probably in December. That clearly has changed.
Massa who has only been in Congress since 2008 when he defeated a Republican in a normally GOP district, is the subject of an ethics investigation regarding the staffer's harassment charge.
In a particularly self-flagellating "open letter" on his website, Massa writes:
I own this reality. There is no doubt in my mind that I did in fact, use language in the privacy of my own home and in my inner office that, after 24 years in the Navy, might make a Chief Petty Officer feel uncomfortable. In fact, there is no doubt that this Ethics issue is my fault and mine alone. But in the incredibly toxic atmosphere that is Washington D.C., with the destruction of our elected leaders having become a blood sport, especially in talk radio and on the internet, there is also no doubt that an Ethics investigation would tear my family and my staff apart. Some would say that this is what happens when you stand apart from political parties, which I have done. Others will say that this is what happens to a non politician when they go to Washington DC. I want to make something perfectly clear. My difficulties are of my own making. Period. I am also aware that blogs and radio will have a field day with this in today's destructive and unforgiving political environment. In that investigators would be free to ask anything about me going back to my birth, I simply cannot rise to that level of perfection. God knows that I am a deeply flawed and imperfect person...
... Therefore, effective at 5 PM on Monday the 8th of March I will resign my position as the Federal Representative of New York's 29th Congressional District in the 111th Congress. I do so with a profound sense of failure and a deep apology to all those whom, for the past year, I tried to represent as our Nation struggles with problems far greater than anyone can possibly imagine.
The congressman's problems only add to the difficulties facing Democrats who promises that they would run a more ethical Congress than Republicans helped them take over the House in 2006 after 12 years out of the majority.
Earlier this week, for example, Democrats forced Rep. Charlie Rangel, also of New York and the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, to relinquish his chairmanship after a number of ethics questions engulfed him.