Freshman Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY) announced on Wednesday afternoon that he will not seek re-election to a second term in office this November, citing health reasons. While admitting to having used foul language, he strongly denied allegations that he sexually harassed a male staffer.
Massa told reporters in a conference call that his decision was primarily a result of his experiencing a third cancer scare in December, which he called a “very intense and personal experience,” according to CBS News.
The Associated Press points out that “Massa was stricken with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1996. He underwent aggressive treatment and stayed on as an aide to retired Gen. Wesley K. Clark, a presidential candidate in 2004.”
The New York Daily News first reported on the Congressman’s intention to resign on Wednesday ahead of his statement.
Politico claimed Wednesday afternoon that Massa “sexually harassed a male staffer” but offered no sources or quotes to confirm, instead merely attributing the information to “several house aides — on both sides of the aisle.”
Massa strongly rebuked this accusation in the conference call. CBS reported:
Massa called the allegations “unsubstantiated or without facts or backing,” calling them a “symptom of what’s wrong with this city.” But he also said that he has used “salty language when I’m angry,” both in his office and his home, and said he apologized to those he may have offended.
PoliticsNation’s Reid Wilson also said Massa confessed to using “salty language.”
The liberal Web site FireDogLake‘s David Dayen blasted Politico for reporting the un-sourced rumor with “no corroboration whatsoever.” He quipped, “Hey, thanks for ‘winning the day’ and smearing a terminally ill man with anonymous sources, Politico! Get that Pulitzer application ready!”
AP noted that Massa would have been vulnerable in the November elections as he represents a “district long dominated by Republicans.”
ABC News adds, “Rep. Massa was elected to Congress in 2008 with 51% of the vote in an upstate New York district where John McCain bested Barack Obama by three points.”
Massa may be a one-term congressman, but he hasn’t been afraid to forcefully speak his mind. Responding to Dick Cheney’s allegations that Democrats are weak on terror, Massa said in December that the former vice president suffers from “political diarrhea of the mouth.”