Rep. Van Hollen: Further Massa Investigation ‘Under Discussion’

By Matt Loffman

Mar 10, 2010 5:13pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: The resignation of Eric Massa from the House of Representatives ended the pending ethics committee inquiries into his conduct, since the committee does not have jurisdiction over former members of Congress. But that may not be the end of the story. On ABC’s “Top Line” today, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, a member of Democratic House leadership, said House leaders are exploring other ways for complaints leveled at Massa, D-N.Y., to be pursued. “This is a very sad case, and the question you raise is something we will be looking into, because as you said, when he resigned his seat, clearly the complaints filed with the ethics committee went away,” said Van Hollen, D-Md., the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “But there may be other forums in which those individuals can pursue those complaints, so that’s something that will be looked at as we move forward.” Van Hollen provided no specifics about what further action might be taken, but indicated that those who have leveled accusations at Massa will have a say in that. “This is something under discussion. The big issue is going to be whether the individuals involved — and I don’t know who they are, other than what’s been in the press here — whether and how they want to pursue that.” The Washington Post reported today that several male staff members have said that Massa made sexually suggestive comments to them. Massa himself gave one interview yesterday where he said he did “grope” a male staffer, though he later gave another interview where he said “I never admitted groping.” Republicans have urged Democrats not to let official inquiries drop just because Massa left Congress. “There are an awful lot of questions surround the Eric Massa case and his resignation, and at this point, there are a lot more questions than answers,” House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said today. “And I would hope that we would get to the bottom of these questions.” Several congressional aides noted that the ethics committee continued to investigate the Mark Foley incident even after Foley, R-Fla., resigned his House seat in 2006. That investigation looked into what members of GOP leadership knew about Foley’s alleged conduct with congressional pages, and how they acted on that information. In Massa’s case, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., has said he knew about some of the allegations made against Massa, and demanded that the information be shared with the ethics committee. Van Hollen also said that it’s his “expectation” that Gov. David Paterson, D-N.Y., would schedule a special election to fill the remainder of Massa’s term: “We’re going to do very well in the special elections. And don’t forget, you know — we won that special election back in September in upstate New York, where Republicans had held that seat since the Civil War.” Van Hollen also talked about the coming House vote on health care, expressing confidence that Democrats would not suffer politically because of the health care push. UPDATE: After the program aired, Van Hollen's office offered this statement to clarify his comments: “Rep. Van Hollen simply stated his understanding that the bipartisan Ethics Committee does not have jurisdiction over individuals who are not Members of Congress. Beyond that, he has no knowledge of what actions the Ethics Committee may or may not be taking with regard to former Rep. Eric Massa.” – Doug Thornell 

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