Scandal-tinged Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) ended his short but combustible Congressional career Monday night, acknowledging inappropriate behavior as he battled allegations that he sexually harassed a male staffer.
And in a development with far-reaching political implications, Massa left office preparing to take to the national airwaves to point fingers at House leaders, who, he insisted, were eager to get rid of him because he did not support their health care reform legislation.
Even before he faced an ethics committee investigation into sexually charged comments that he made to one of his aides, Massas pervasive use of vulgarities prompted earlier efforts in his House office to rein in his behavior, both the ex-lawmaker and a top aide admitted.
During his weekly radio show Sunday on New York station WKPQ Power 105 FM, Massa, a retired Naval officer, acknowledged that his salty language had at times offended members of his own staff.
I am guilty of using language [that] I am sure that would turn someones hair white. But it was in the privacy of my own home and in the privacy of my inner office, Massa said. An audio file of his show was made available by local station 13 WHAM-TV.
One incident in January, Massa continued, prompted him to issue a staff-wide memorandum, requiring everyone in his office himself included to adhere to a higher standard of behavior.
I said something that was out of bounds. I said, I had to go lick lollipops to raise money. Now you can use your imagination to know what I actually said, Massa recalled. It was inappropriate. I actually had someone on the staff say, Come on now boss, and I said, Youre right, Im sorry.
I wrote a document and directed the chief of staff to have every member of my staff sign it, and I was the first signature, he added.
Massa Chief of Staff Joseph Racalto said Monday that he raised the issue of Massas language with the lawmaker late last year, prompting Massa in October to write and circulate an internal memo to staff promising to clean it up.
It is not clear whether Massa was in fact recalling the same incident in his radio interview, although the details are similar.
If I would hear something, I would say, Hey, calm it down a little bit, because he would get upset and the language would be a little bit colorful, Racalto said. When he gets mad, you know, words fly. I brought it to his attention that he needed to keep himself less colorful language. And he agreed.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson appears at the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church on M Street Northwest for a pre-rally before a march to the White House to protest what is seen as President Barack Obama's lack of action in addressing a variety of problems in black communities.
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