Massa Chief of Staff Files Sexual Harassment Claim

By Jonathan Allen
|  Saturday, Apr 17, 2010  |  Updated 10:00 AM EDT
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 Massa Chief of Staff Files Sex Harassment Claim

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Eric Massa

Ex-Rep. Eric Massa's former chief of staff, Joe Racalto, has filed a sexual harassment claim against the New York Democrat, according to Racalto's attorney.

Camilla McKinney said the claim was filed with the appropriate office for congressional employment complaints. That is the Office of Compliance, and Racalto's is the second such complaint against Massa to be made public this week.

Racalto first contacted the office on March 23 and provided more information in April, according to McKinney.

POLITICO reported Friday that Massa used a campaign account to pay Racalto a $40,000 lump sum in early March, just as he was resigning his seat amid allegations that he sexually harassed several aides. McKinney said the money was a "deferred payment" for work Racalto did for Massa's transition from candidate to congressman after the 2008 election and for setting up his 2010 re-election effort.

Another aide to Massa filed a claim accusing Massa of a variety of forms of sexual harassment, including inappropriate physical contact and lewd commentary, according to the anonymous aide's attorneys.

McKinney declined to discuss the specifics of Racalto's allegations.

Racalto first raised questions about Massa's behavior with an aide to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) last October. At that time, according to another Pelosi aide, Massa's living arrangement – he shared a townhouse with several junior aides – and allegations that he used foul language around the office were the concerns discussed.

In February, Massa's deputy chief of staff, Ron Hikel, brought more serious allegations of harassment of junior staff to the attention of aides to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). Hoyer was, in turn, told, and he gave Massa's office 48 hours to take the matter to the House ethics committee.

Massa removed himself from the reach of the ethics panel by resigning his seat, but the committee has continued to look into the actions of other lawmakers and staff in handling allegations of harassment against Massa.

Racalto has spoken with the ethics committee several times, McKinney said.

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