Boehner announces privileged resolution on Massa

Mike Riggs Contributor
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House Republicans are offering a privileged resolution today that calls for an investigation of Democrats’ handling of Rep. Erica Massa’s ethics case, Rep. John Boehner just announced.

“The American people have every right to expect that their members are held to the highest ethical standards,” Boehner said, according to the Daily Caller’s Jon Ward.

According to Ward, Boehner said he wants “to get to the bottom of a lot of unanswered questions” about Massa’s behavior and how it was handled by leadership.

A Boehner aide told Ward, “Boehner will offer a privileged resolution directing the Ethics Committee to fully investigate what House Democratic leaders and members of their respective staffs knew prior to March 3, 2010 regarding the allegations concerning former Rep. Eric Massa, and what actions each leader and staffer took after learning of the allegations.  The resolution directs the committee to report its findings and recommendations no later than June 30, 2010.”

The vote will need a simple majority to pass.

Some background, from last night’s Massa story:

Republicans want to know why Pelosi was not told earlier of allegations that Massa groped his aides. The speaker’s staff learned of Massa’s misbehavior from Hoyer’s staff in early February, and did not inform her until early March, Pelosi told reporters last week.

A Pelosi aide also told The Daily Caller late Wednesday that her office was informed in October by Massa’s chief of staff, Joe Racolto, of concerns that the congressman was living with a number of male staffers, that he had hired too many staff, and that he was using profanity around them.

Racolto said at the time that he had asked the congressman to move out of the row house he was sharing with the aides. Massa recounted this conversation during a TV interview Tuesday, and said he moved into his office at the time.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday evening that Racolto’s call was prompted by Massa’s advances toward a young, gay congressional staffer who worked on the staff of Rep. Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat who is himself openly gay.

Republicans say that if former Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel was admonished by the ethics committee for actions by his staffers that he was not aware of – which led to Rangel relinquishing the chair last week – then Pelosi could be held accountable as well for her staff’s inaction in not telling her sooner of what they knew.

The GOP move, which would come in the form of a privileged resolution on the House floor, was being discussed amid rumors circulating on Capitol Hill that Massa’s misconduct may have gone beyond groping male aides.

The Daily Caller will not publish further details about such rumors unless they can be verified. But they are the latest in a cascade of increasingly serious news about Massa’s past behavior. Reports surfaced Wednesday that Massa had a history, during his 20-year career in the U.S. Navy, of making unwanted sexual advances toward other sailors.

The GOP wants the ethics committee, headed by Rep. Zoe Lofgren, California Democrat, to examine whether Pelosi, California Democrat, and Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, responded appropriately when they learned about more serious allegations against Massa in early February. The ethics committee on Wednesday dropped its probe of Massa, citing his resignation from Congress, but Republicans want it reopened to focus on leadership.