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Eric Massa

I met Eric Massa in Las Vegas in 2006 at the first YearlyKos convention.  He was milling around the lobby of the Riviera, trying to round up people to walk down the street to the tackiest bar you’ve ever seen for a drink.  I thought he was buying.  As we sat in the faux fur covered lounge pit groups around a blazing fire, in a scene that was more like apres ski cross pollinated with Hooters, Eric Massa delivered a riveting stump speech.  He was an energetic, charismatic, full monty, unapologetic politician with principles.  At the end of it, he asked for twenty bucks from all of the rag tag followers hoping to get a free beer from him.  I ponied up my share, bought my own drink and thought it was money well spent.

I wasn’t at all surprised when he won his district in 2008.  But I was very surprised that there are allegations of harrassment against him.  Call me a cockeyed, pollyannaish type but I’m not buying it.  In fact, I am not the kind of person who thinks everyone has a heart of incorruptible gold.  Most people have something they would prefer to hide from the world.  There’s  a Stranger lurking in the dark recesses of every human soul. But this ethics charge doesn’t quite ring true.  All of the breathless reports from  Politico and WaPo sound more like tabloid journalism.  It’s all extremely vague.  Someone said something about something else and they were brought to the ethics committee in chains and forced under duress to suggest that there was something going on.  Well, what can you expect from Politico?  You know where they stand.  They’re the Fox news of what appears to be legitimate political journalism.  They specialize in rumor, innuendo and wild speculation.

I can do wild speculation too.  So, here’s my best guess as to why Eric Massa is retiring.  He bucked his leadership on the health care reform bill.  He held out for single payer.  Being a Navy vet, he probably sees the benefits to a single payer system. (We should at least explore the idea)  And now he is being made a poster child for what happens to you if you cross Steny Hoyer.  Maybe they told him he wouldn’t get any help from the home team in his re-election bid this fall.  Massa comes from a swing district.  Just to put the cherry on the sundae, Hoyer follows up on Massa’s announcement by idly speculating on the ethics charges.  It *almost* sounds like he’s instigating whoever is making them to go to the ethics committee and report Massa.  Now, why would you knife one of your own like that?  Presumably, you still need Massa’s votes for upcoming bills, at least until he actually goes back to NY.  Maybe it’s because Massa isn’t expected to cooperate on much of anything Hoyer wants, to which I say, good for Massa.

But it must be putting a chill on anyone else who doesn’t want to play the establishment political game.  Step out of line and not only will we make your re-election difficult, we’ll ruin your reputation and your family life.  Nice.

Well, I’ll just leave it at that.  What more is there to say?  I hope that Massa hasn’t suffered a relapse of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and I really hope that the ethics charges are a whole lot of sound an fury signifying nothing.  But I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see  Congresscritters with a lot less determination than Massa cave to the demands of the House leadership on health care reform.  Let’s face it, most of them are craven, don’t-rock-the-boat, let’s-all-get-along, student council types anyway.  Even the bravest among them still want to be loved by their friends.  They’ll cave.

Good luck, Eric.  We’ll miss you.

38 Responses

  1. The “Chicago Way” is rampant. Payoffs and pressure. Remember what happened to all of BO’s challengers in Chicago?

  2. It smells to me too. Smells like the same stench as came from the smears of David Patterson, Elliot Spitzer, John Murtha, Bill and Hillary Clinton…….. The David patterson smear….didn’t pay for Yankee Tickets to a World series!!!!!! Wow. Sitting Gov who is blind goes mostly as official business type thing. What would have been said if he didn’t go? Called a woman of his aide…Wow. The whole scene is so smarmy. Buck Obama and you are fucked over. I guess a horse head in your bed is too passe. Bush III. Is this Rahm or Axelrove or 0bama?

    • I don’t know how much Obama is behind this. I suspect it’s a house leadership thing. I’ve always despised Hoyer. He’s about as establishment as it gets.
      As for Paterson, he’s kind of flaky but the New York Times is out to get him and has been since he dissed Caroline Kennedy for Hillary’s old seat. He should have been extra special careful about everything he did.

      • Obama may not explicitly be behind these retirements and resignations, but the moral attitude of every corporation and large group begins at the highest level and rapidly rolls down through the ranks.

        • Absolutely! Whoever is at the top, hires in his own image. When I’m treated shabbily by a “line worker”, I know exactly who has set the standard for behaviour.

      • You took the words out of my mouth.

        They have been after Paterson in a big way after he showed Princess CK the door.

        How come the House doesn’t have problems with Charlie Rangel’s ethics violations, but does with rumors against Massa?

      • And recall these are the SAME media who knew about Edwards super sleezy story and said nothing. That was actually a really relevant story, as Edwards paid his mistress loads of campaign money for doing next to nothing.

        Was NYTimes one of those covering up for Edwards? Remember they also held off on FISA story until after 2004 elections. Meanwhile, they wrote 2 very long features (based on anonymous ruminations of a friend of a friend of a lawyer working for …) on Bill Clinton and John McCain possibly straying outside the line, and how things like that would be ‘distracting’ in the campaign.

        • Some of the progressive bloggers buried the Edwards affair during the fall of 2007. If it had come out, Hillary would most likely have won. This is from October 15, 2007.

          Yesterday afternoon, Atlantic’s coolish blogger extroadinaire Matthew Yglesias posted angrily about Mickey Kaus’ insistence on the John Edwards-Hippie affair rumors even though there’s nothing really to them (we think! who knows!) Then, some commenter posted this Wonkettish bit: “Hey, you know what I hear, Mickey Kaus likes to fuck goats,” which led to something of an avalanche of goat-fucking accusations which Kaus has yet do deny. Although people always call Wonkette the filthy blog, MyDD, Kos, Atrios and alla them are having the most fun day ever with this. After the jump, grisly details of Kausgoat-gate from the Yglesias comment board:

          “How can we withhold our compassion for the man in love with a beautiful, horizontally-pupiled young buck who waves his erect tail like a hairy flag in the teeth of a gale of social disapproval?”

          “Now, to be fair, someone should at least do the courtesy of interviewing Mr. Kaus so that he can attempt a plausible denial of goat-blowing and post it on youtube. It’s the right thing to do.”

          “All that may be true, but I don’t see how anything you said casts any doubt at all on the recent scandalous revelations about Mickey Kaus and his penchant for smoking goat cock.”

          The anti-seemitic slurs from the progs are unfortunate as well.

  3. I thought the Politico reporting was very tabloid, too.

  4. Thanks for writing this, RD. We see eye-to-eye on what seems to be happening here to Massa and others who show any independence. Unfortunately, non-Hodgkins lymphoma is typically a killer, interspersed with periods of remission. Same disease that Jackie Kennedy Onassis died of, if I recall correctly. The medical issues can’t be ignored.

    • OTOH, that’s exactly what everybody said about Scott Ritter, that he was being set up on child pornography charges. Sure, it’s possible that he’s being set up, although why anyone would bother if he was stepping down due to medical issues, *shrugs*

      • Doesn’t his resignation bring the magic number down for Pelosi on HCR votes?

        • Yeah, but if they’re forcing him out then where does the health angle come in? On the one hand, he’s telling the truth and retiring because of ill health, yet he’s also being forced out. And will there be more Congresspeople likewise targeted to bring the number down further? Why him–is he singularly valuable and/or threatening? I’m not saying he’s guilty, but–I personally am a little bit wary of how whenever anyone is accused of anything, 5000 people rush forward to say what a great guy he is and how it can’t possibly be true. It’s also possible to be a decent seeming person and
          do some good things and be on our side and still be capable of some monstrous behavior as well.

          • I’m in the neutral camp, I have no position on whether he’s innocent or guilty. I just find the timing curious and the reporting sketchy so far. That’s about it. Massa did say that he and his family had kept his hospitalization in December to themselves. So it’s not like we know for sure that whoever pushed the story ahead of Massa’s announcement was aware he would say he was retiring because of the health angle. Why him? Could be as simple as he was a NO vote with a vulnerability to exploit. But, again whether he was even set up or not is a big IF covered in tinfoil. I think that’s the crux of the problem though, we don’t know enough and the wild speculation game cuts both ways.

          • Well, Massa’s version is that he only became aware of the investigation after he’d already decided to resign, so, if true, there wouldn’t be much reason to publicly burn him with a drummed up allegation after they got what they wanted except to send a message, and frankly, with all the bunraku and lack of opposition it wouldn’t seem like that was needed, but that’s just me. I agree, we don’t know. It certainly is possible that it was a big set up or that the allegations are legitimate but untrue, or many other things.

        • Also, while I personally believe it’s all bunraku they can achieve any magic number they want, let’s say in theory that’s not true. Wouldn’t it be just as or more valuable from their perspective to use putative false allegations they cooked up to keep him in line rather than have him resign? Something else might come up where they actually needed his vote and they could blackmail him into doing whatever they say. So they have months jerking his strings and then he’s replaced by a Repub anyway, helping Obama in his quest to run against a Republican Congress. Win-win.

          • Hypothetical scenario–if someone was trying to blackmail, what if, whoever it was, wasn’t prepared for the fact that the other party wasn’t well and/or would just retire instead of stick it out and yield to demands? I have no idea whether or not that applies in any way to Massa retiring.

            As far as when Massa found out about the allegations, are we basing that on the Politico article from the other day or something more? The reason I ask is because if there’s other reporting and you could point me to it, I’d appreciate it. The politico article said he denied any allegations being brought to him. Probably it’s irrelevant that they didn’t quote him directly, but I took it with a grain of salt because they didn’t.

            At any rate, Massa did say something that he had to resign for. He admitted as much in his resignation.

          • No, it’s from his statement http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/05/new-york-congressman-resigns-amid-harassment-charge/?hp

            Yeah, That makes sense about the hypothetical. I can’t tell if you’re getting mad or not, 🙂 but if so, I’m sorry. I’m not trying to upset anyone. The only reason I care is just because of personal experience plus things like Ritter, it makes me uncomfortable when the accuser is writter off before they have a chance to speak. Of course neither you nor greyslady or RD or anyone is doing that, but just in general tge whole thing makes me uncomfortable, though I can also understand why it’s suspicious too.

          • Seriously, *hugs* I wasn’t getting mad.
            It’s the MSM and the party leadership (both parties, really) that I’m wary of, and I just wanted to be clear that it was all pure speculation from my end.

            ty for the link. I’d only caught a couple quotes from his resignation yesterday.

  5. Patterson hasn’t been great while in office, but he hasn’t been so bad that he deserves to be run out of town on a rail He’s made some powerful enemies. Wish I knew who they were; they’re vicious

  6. I heard another take on this via Ann Coulter. She agrees the NY Times is out to destroy Paterson but she reasons that they are after him because he wants to cut spending.

    I guess whatever it is there is a big consensus that Paterson is getting the treatment from NYT.

    Very interesting alternate view of Massa. When you reflect on it, you can not help but wonder. Politics is so ugly. DC is a really sicko environment. I’m glad I live 3000 miles away.

  7. Yeah, I too am skeptical.
    here’s more from what I remember about Massa: In 2003 he worked in some capacity in W’s government (military?) – administrative. Being a Clark supporter he attended some rallies and was told by his bosses that he should stop or be fired. He told them to take their job and shove it. he would stand by Clark who once supported him when he was sick with cancer. Eventually, he came to work for Clark’s campaign and then run for Congress. In June 2008 I met Massa again – in Washington – during the RBC shame. He was one of the speakers at our rally – and the theme of his speech was loyalty (re” those delegates who sold out). Somewhere I have a photo of him there.
    I am glad RD posted this on his behalf. I think he is getting Patersoned.

  8. Found the photo. It’s in this album
    – photo # 16 – in the company of Stephanie Tubbs Jones and Amy Siskind. Someone would have to convince me really hard that this is not about pay-off.

  9. If there are ethics charges against him, wouldn’t they have to see it through. And why wouldn’t Massa just come out and deny them. It’s a charge against his personal integrity.

  10. I hate to break this to you, but Eric Massa has had a thing for younger, subordinate males since his Navy Days. Read more about it here:


    Massa’s ex-deputy chief of staff (is he an “ex” because of this situation?), Ronald Hikel, is the person that reported Massa’s sexual harassment of the young male staffer to the House Ethics committee. This wasn’t an outside smear job, these was Massa’s own people who blew him in. Another Massa aide told POLITICO that Massa has been engaged in inappropriate behavior for eight months.

    Massa is my congresscritter and I want the truth uncovered in this case. It sounds like Massa has been using his positions of power to harass young guys who reported to him for years and that’s abuse!


    • Sorry, I don’t buy it. Lonsberry is just repeating hearsay and admits that he opposed Massa in both of his campaigns. He said he didn’t say anything at the time Massa ran. Why? Presumably this could have scuttled Massa’s campaign. If he didn’t report it then, why is it more believable now?
      As for Massa’s salty language, we’ve had Dick Cheney tell a senator to “go fuck himself” and we’ve seen Jim Bunning give reporters the finger. If you work on the Hill, presumably you are used to a bit of adult language.
      I’m sticking to Massa on this one. Innocent until proven guilty

      • Now that you’ve probably read through all the comments in this blog, you know that Massa is resigning on Monday. He’s doing that so he won’t be investigated. Everyone has skeletons in their closet, but trying to seduce young men who are your charges is despicable!

        This charge came from Massa’s own people, not right wing bloggers.


        • Mebbe. Or maybe he’s telling the truth. His leadership wants him gone, they are feeding him to the wolves and his health is at risk.
          Stress can kill you even if you don’t have cancer. I’m giving Massa the benefit of a doubt here.

  11. He’s done…


    Again, this was his own staff that turned him in. He’s resigning so he doesn’t have to face an investigation, where the alleged incidents in the Navy would have come to light, and who knows what else.

    I feel bad for his wife and kids.

  12. Lonsberry would be the last person I would ever believe.
    His wife left him because he kept beating the crap out of her.


  13. I agree with Riverdaughter–why didn’t this come out during Massa’s campaign(s)? Why now?

    Ya think maybe this had something to do with it?


  14. Bill,

    I understand your sentiments about Lonsberry, my group had a run-in with him too. One has to take what he writes or broadcasts with a grain of salt. I’m not a Lonsberry sycophant.

    With that said, weighing what he reported in his blog, that he can source, BTW, along with the *report from his staff* that the sexual harassment situation has been going for eight months and now his decision to resign on Monday leads me to believe that he’s resigning to avoid the investigation. He admitted on his own website.

    From: http://massa.house.gov/

    ” I am also aware that blogs and radio will have a field day with this in today’s destructive and unforgiving political environment. In that *investigators would be free to ask anything* about me going back to my birth, I simply cannot rise to that level of perfection. God knows that I am a deeply flawed and imperfect person.”

    Again, it was his own staff that turned him in. The sexual harassment allegation didn’t originate with right wing bloggers, it originated with his own people and in the case of Lonsberry’s article, from his own shipmates, two of his subordinate junior officers.

    It’s no wonder why he doesn’t want to be investigated and is resigning on Monday.

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