After Leaving Office, Massa Pays $64,000 in Legal Fees

Posted July 15, 2010 at 10:21pm

Ex-Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) has emptied his campaign coffers of more than $64,000 to cover legal bills after he resigned from the House in March amid allegations he sexually harassed his aides, according to his most recent campaign finance report.

Massa reported multiple payments to New York law firm Dealy & Silberstein totaling more than $25,000, according to a report released Thursday by the Federal Election Commission. He also made a payment of nearly $28,000 to lawyer James Doyle of Rochester, N.Y., and multiple payments to Sandler, Reiff & Young totaling more than $11,500.

In addition to the legal expenses, Massa reported a $27,000 payment to his wife, Beverly Massa, on April 1 for “compliance fees.” He also began issuing payments to his wife for “operating expenses/payroll” in late April, paying out $7,200 in the second quarter. This is the first time this cycle that Beverly Massa has been paid by her husband’s campaign, but she was on the payroll in 2008.

The Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, the formal name for the House ethics panel, launched an investigation subcommittee in April to review the allegations involving Massa. It is also probing when House Democratic leaders learned of the accusation and how they responded.

The National Legal and Policy Center, a conservative ethics watchdog group, called in April for an investigation by the FEC into spending by Massa’s campaign, including a $40,000 payment to former Chief of Staff Joe Racalto made just before Massa’s resignation. Massa has disputed that he authorized that payment.

It is unknown whether the FEC is investigating, because the commission does not announce its inquiries until they are complete.

At least two of Massa’s former aides have filed complaints with the Office of Compliance, which applies laws covering civil rights, fair employment and discrimination to Capitol Hill offices.