Rep. Eric Massa became something of a conservative hero Monday after he accused Democratic leadership of forcing him to resign because he wouldn’t support the health care reform bill. But a highly anticipated interview with the former congressman left Glenn Beck apologizing Tuesday.
In a Sunday radio talk, Massa claimed that he was guilty of using “salty language” but that he had done nothing else wrong. Roll Call reported that the then-congressman had suggested that he should be having sex with a male staffer.
“On New Year’s Eve, I went to a staff party. It was actually a wedding for a staff member of mine; there were over 250 people there. I was with my wife. And in fact we had a great time. She got the stomach flu,” he said.
Massa explained that he then danced first with the bride, who was not identified, and then with a bridesmaid. He said multiple cameras recorded the incident.
“I said goodnight to the bridesmaid,” Massa continued. “I sat down at the table where my whole staff was, all of them by the way bachelors.”
“One of them looked at me and as they would do after, I don’t know, 15 gin and tonics, and goodness only knows how many bottles of champagne, a staff member made an intonation to me that maybe I should be chasing after the bridesmaid and his points were clear and his words were far more colorful than that,” Massa said. “And I grabbed the staff member sitting next to me and said, ‘Well, what I really ought to be doing is frakking you.’ And then [I] tossled the guy’s hair and left, went to my room, because I knew the party was getting to a point where it wasn’t right for me to be there. Now was that inappropriate of me? Absolutely. Am I guilty? Yes.”
But a Tuesday report in the Washington Post said that Massa was being investigated for “groping” multiple staffers.
The allegations surrounding the former lawmaker date back at least a year, and involve “a pattern of behavior and physical harassment,” according to one source. The new claims of alleged groping contradict statements by Massa, who resigned his office on Monday after it became public that he was the subject of a House ethics committee investigation for possible harassment…
According to two sources familiar with the probe, Massa’s former deputy chief of staff Ron Hikel provided the information about the staffers’ allegations to the House ethics committee three weeks ago. Hikel had earlier sought advice from Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s office about brewing internal complaints, the sources said, and had been urged to report the allegations to the committee.
In the same radio address, Massa tried to point the blame for his resignation at Rahm Emanuel and the Democrats.
“You think that somehow they didn’t come after me to get rid of me because my vote is the deciding vote in the health care bill?” Massa said. “Then, ladies and gentlemen, you live today in a world that is so innocent as to not understand what’s going on in Washington, D.C.”
But in Tuesday’s interview with Glenn Beck, Massa seemed to back off his allegations. “I wasn’t forced out. I forced myself out. I failed. I didn’t live up to my own codes. I own this. I take full and complete responsibility for my misbehavior,” said Massa.
Beck, apparently expecting Massa to provide details of Democratic corruption, apologized to his viewers. “America, I’m going to shoot straight with you. I think I’ve wasted your time. I think this is the first time I have wasted an hour of your time, and I apologize for that,” said Beck.
In the same interview, Massa described inappropriate tickle fights that took place while he was living with several of his aides. Massa agreed that the tickle fights were “groping” but said it was non-sexual, according to The New York Times “I did nothing sexual,” he said.
“Now they are saying I groped a male staffer,” he told Mr. Beck. “Yeah, I did. Not only did I grope him. I tickled him until he couldn’t breathe, and then four guys jumped on top of me. It was my 50th birthday. It was kill the old guy. You can take anything out of context.”
Mr. Massa suggested he had been warned about how his conduct was being perceived.
“My chief of staff had a conniption and said: ‘You can’t live there; it’s not Congressional,’ ” he said.
Mr. Massa, who is married, explained that he and his aides — “all bachelors” — lived together because they could not afford the rents in Washington.
Hours later while talking to Larry King, Massa seemed to take back the groping admission. “No, it is not true, period. I don’t know how else to answer your question,” he told King.
“Are you gay,” asked King.
“Here’s my answer, I’m not going to answer that. In the year 2010? Why don’t you ask my wife, ask my friends. Ask the 10,000 sailors I served with in the Navy,” responded Massa.
“It insults every gay American. Why would anyone ask that question?” he wondered.
This video is from MSNBC’s Countdown, broadcast March 9, 2010.