House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that she will cooperate with an ethics committee investigating sexual misconduct allegations against former Rep. Eric Massa, and will speak before the panel if asked to do so.
She took questions on the ethics probe and immigration legislation at a wide-ranging news conference before sitting down to chat with a group of kids in her Capitol Hill office on Take Your Daughters and Sons To Work Day.
In addition to agreeing to cooperate with ethics investigators, Pelosi backed Majority Leader Steny Hoyer's (D-Md.) plan to review procedures for dealing with sexual harassment complaints in the House. Hoyer has said the ethics committee, the House Administration Committee and the Office of Compliance should coordinate efforts to improve the system for reporting such charges.
"I support it," she said. "I support what he has done. Staff (of Congress) must participate in instruction on ethics."
She also made clear her satisfaction with how the ethics investigation has proceeded so far, despite claims that the reporting mechanism for misconduct allegations protects the subjects of the complaints. Massa, the former New York congressman, is accused of harassing male employes of his Washington office.
"[I have] no concerns whatsoever," she said. "I made myself available as I always will to the ethics committee." Ethics committee meetings are closed to the public and the media.
On the legislative front, Pelosi said she believes she has enough votes to pass an immigration reform bill in the House, although the legislation must first clear the the Senate.
Then it was the turn of the kids -- many of them daughters and sons of reporters in the room covering the event. The Speaker gave them a chance to try their hand at their parents' trade.
As the children asked a series of questions including why so many people don't like politics and why there are so many problems with the government, Pelosi said, "I'm getting the tenor of the dinner-table conversation. I guess this isn't an appropriate time to talk about the previous (Bush) administration."
Pelosi, the first woman Speaker, told the boys and girls that she never thought she'd grow up to be the highest-ranking woman in Congress.
"When I was your age, I wanted to be a teenager," she said. "And when I was as teenager I wanted to dance. Not professionally, just dance. I never wanted to run for office. What that goes to show you is you never know what opportunities might be there for you."
Filed Under: House
, Barack Obama
, Nancy Pelosi