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Eric Massa Harassment Case: Feds, House Panel Open New Probes

5 years ago
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The FBI and the Justice Department announced Wednesday that they were investigating payments possibly related to the accusations of sexual harassment of male staffers by Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY). Earlier, the House ethics committee said it was looking into whether anyone covered up information related to the case.

Federal authorities are looking into large payments Massa's campaign made last month to his top aide and to renew the lease for the congressman's personal car, The Washington Post reported.

A former Massa staffer was served with a Justice Department request to preserve all his phone records, e-mail accounts and other documents relating to Massa's campaign and congressional office, according to records obtained by the newspaper.

Massa, 50, stepped down March 3, as reports surfaced about the alleged harassment. The next day, Massa's campaign paid $40,000 to his chief of staff, Joe Racalto, a critical witness in the ethics inquiry, the Post reported last week. The campaign also paid $39,000 to renew a car lease.

Earlier Wednesday, the House said it would conduct "a full and complete investigation" into whether anyone covered up information related to allegations that the congressman harassed and groped male staff members.

The House investigation could involve the office of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, The Associated Press reported. Massa's chief of staff met with an aide in Pelosi's office in October, months before Massa resigned, to discuss the congressman's problems with employees. It's unclear whether those discussions involved charges of groping.

The ethics panel will look into whether congressional members or staffers had personal knowledge of Massa's behavior and failed to report any allegations of misconduct. The committee will also investigate the alleged payments to Racalto.

Read Wednesday's statement by the House ethics committee here.
Filed Under: House, Congress

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