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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Pelosi aide knew of Massa concerns in October

The House ethics committee closed its investigation into sexual harassment allegations against former Rep. Eric Massa on Wednesday afternoon — even as an aide to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi acknowledged for the first time that her office learned of concerns about Massa far earlier than previously known.

Sources familiar with the situation told POLITICO that the bipartisan committee decided to close its investigation into the case because Massa’s resignation — effective at 5 p.m. Monday — deprived the committee of jurisdiction over him.

But House Republicans cried foul, with one senior GOP aide saying that the new information about Pelosi’s office “further underscores” the need to find out what actually happened.

There is no indication that anyone in Pelosi’s office knew of allegations that Massa, a Democrat from New York, had improper physical contact with aides until February, when Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s office was informed of the accusations and shared them with a senior Pelosi staffer.

But a Pelosi aide told POLITICO on Wednesday evening that Massa’s chief of staff, Joe Racalto, informed a member of Pelosi’s “member services” operation in October that Massa was living with several aides, had hired too many staff members and used foul language around his staff.

Racalto also raised concerns about “the way Massa ran his office” and informed Pelosi’s member-services staffer that he had asked Massa to move out of the group house on Capitol Hill, the Pelosi aide said.

Democratic insiders say Pelosi’s office took no action after Racalto expressed his concerns about his then-boss in October.

Hoyer’s aides say he was informed of sexual-harassment allegations against Massa by Ron Hikel, another Massa aide, Feb. 8 and gave the New York Democrat’s office an ultimatum: Take the charges to the ethics committee within 48 hours, or Hoyer would.

Pelosi’s aide said that Hoyer’s office shared those allegations with a senior Pelosi staffer in February and that “the staff concurred that an ethics investigation was the proper course of action and were assured one would be initiated.”

When news of that investigation broke last week, Pelosi told reporters that her office had previously heard a rumor about Massa, but that there had been “no formal notification” of allegations against him.
Continues at POLITICO

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