Massa Looted Campaign Treasury on Way Out

Massa photpIt was revealed Friday that former Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY) spent over $70K in campaign funds in the days immediately preceding and following his resignation amid sexual harassment allegations in early March.

According to Federal Election Commission filings, Massa cut a check for $40K to his chief of staff the day after he announced he was resigning. FEC filings also reveal that Massa made a $31,896.42 payment to GMAC for a “campaign car lease” just a few days earlier. Because the money was not being spent on a re-election effort, the former congressman may have violated campaign finance rules barring politicians from spending money on personal items that are unrelated to their campaigns.

The payment to the aide was reported by Carol Leonnig of the Washington Post. The car payment was reported by Jake Sherman of Politico.

These fresh allegations come just days after House minority leader John Boehner (R-OH) asked the ethics committee to begin its probe into Massa’s alleged sexual harassment of young male staffers. Multiple employees of Massa’s congressional office said they were touched inappropriately by the congressman, and subjected to verbal sexual harassment and lewdness beginning in March 2009.

Massa reportedly told young male staffers that he was interested in having sexual relations with them, and also tried to persuade them to travel with him on overnight trips. Staffers complained for over a year before the allegations became public and Massa was pressured to resign.

Rep. Boehner wants the ethics committee to investigate whether Democratic leaders were aware of the harassment before the accusations were made public.

“It is now readily apparent that Congressman Massa’s pattern of troubling behavior continued long after Democrats first became aware of his conduct,” said Boehner in a statement on Tuesday. “It is time for the Ethics Committee to heed this call and launch an investigation to determine what Democratic Leaders knew about former Rep. Massa’s behavior, and what they did to protect the staff who were being subjected to this predator.”
After Massa resigned, the House voted to ask the ethics committee to investigate the allegations of misconduct against him. However, the committee has not said when they will begin that probe.

Alana Goodman is NLPC’s Capitol Hill Reporter.

UPDATE 4/17/10 3pm

The story gets weirder. AP is reporting:

Former congressman Eric Massa said Saturday that someone forged a $40,000 salary increase for his chief of staff, who has accused the ex-lawmaker of sexual harassment.

The New York Democrat also denied authorizing a check from a campaign account in the same amount to the same official, Joe Racalto, according to a statement released by Massa’s attorney.

“The amount of $40,000 was determined solely by Mr. Racalto,” said the statement to The Associated Press. “Mr. Racalto never communicated the $40,000 amount of the payment to Mr. Massa.”

The statement also alleged that “someone forged then-Congressman Massa’s signature on forms raising Mr. Racalto’s own salary as a member of the congressman’s personal staff from $120,000 per year to the maximum permissible level of $160,000.” The statement did not say when that happened.