Congressman Eric Massa – I knew ye, & yet clearly I did not!

Now, I know most folks wont know who I am talking about here, but this is all so surreal I had to write about it.

I first met candidate Massa in Las Vegas at the innaugural Yearly Kos gathering which has since evolved into the Netroots Nation convention. He attended a candidate mixer at the event and I chatted with him for quite awhile about his campaign, but also about diaries he’d written on Daily Kos. He was what we called a “Clarkie” – a General Wesley Clark supporter. More than that, he had served in the navy under the general which was where they met. Both former Republicans who had turned to the left over the Iraq war, General Clark maintained a more centrist position but Mr Massa’s Daily Kos postings and the conversation we had indicated a much more leftward drift.  In fact, he was viewed by the net roots as a great Progressive, ex-military candidate to rally behind. He lost in ’06, but squeaked out a victory in the Democratic/Obama wave of ’08. After that I didn’t hear much about him since he was a freshman legislator and therefore didn’t have a ton of visibility or committee power. I did know he had voted against the health care reform in congress the first time through ostensibly because it was not progressive *enough*. He had been a single payer advocate and was not happy with the watered down version of the bill. Knowing it would pass, his vote was a classic ‘protest’ vote so that he could still claim his progressive bonafides as a supporter of single payer along with a few other’s like him on the Dem side who voted no.

Flash forward to last week and suddenly his name is in the news because he is announcing he is not running for re-election. An odd move given he just made it to office and relatively young (52 this year). However, he had battled non-hodgkins lymphoma in the past (twice) and while he’d been clear of any cancer for several years, it would not be unrealistic to cite health reasons. Sure enough, that was his statement. A well concealed December hospital visit which resulted in the discovery of new cancer cells. That was Wednesday. Underneath his official statement – in fact, within the final paragraph of his official statement were references to untrue allegations that may be coming out. Turned out there was an ethics investigation pending for reports of office misconduct with a male staffer. That was reported on Feb 8 and an investigation was pending.

In the middle of these odd rumblings my long time co-worker points out to me that were at his wedding (she, in fact was a bridesmaid!). Um…say what? Then my long sleeping memory cells wake up and I literally said “Wait, he’s THAT Eric Massa?? *Beverly’s* Eric??!” Well, crap. Of course his wife had not attended the netroots conventions – family didn’t do that, just the candidates. Plus they have school aged kids. Heck, I held one of them! Beverly was my original manager when I started working. She met Eric while I was working with her and continued working until after their frist child was born. This was when Eric was still an officer in the navy. Once she stopped working, I would still see her from time to time or hear of her from the other co-worker. Then, clearly, they moved out of town and communication drifted away.

So NOW I am viewing this scandal with fresh eyes because I feel extra horrible for his wife and kids and what they must be dealing with. Now, it feels personal.

And then it just got weird.

The allegations because sexual in nature. He denied that, but did admit to ‘salty language’. This was Friday. On Saturday he admitted to most likely creating a stressful environment in his office with his temper and language and apologized. Meanwhile a local New York radio host and blogger posted about some previously buried allegations of sexual misconduct during Massa’s navy tours. Uh oh. Sunday he goes ON a radio show and makes a lengthy statement detailing what he thought was the original complaint – an incident at a wedding that quite frankly sounded to me like he was just being a smart ass. At least, I could certainly picture it that way, but yes, it was certainly inappropriate behavior for a Congressman. Then he admitted to a couple of the navy encounters, one of which well…I frankly just cannot spin in ANY positive way for him! Military raunchiness & overall frat boy atmosphere doesn’t even excuse it. On top of regaling everyone with these tales, he then goes on to accuse the Democratic leaders of forcing him to resign right away vs serving out his term all under the guise of his ‘no’ vote on health care! Oh boy – imagination is now stretched beyond belief when he starts with the conspiracy stuff.

So as of today he is out and tomorrow what is he doing? Spending an hour on the Glenn Beck show and also on Larry King!!

Oh lord. Someone then digs out the origins of why he left the Republican party in 2003. As he went out THAT door he was claiming a conspiracy to get rid of him (then in his role as a congressional aide to a GOP congressman) because he was questioning the motives for the war in Iraq.There was also an issue with his original campaign chief of staff back in 2006 that had to be settled out of court.

I’m sensing a pattern here now. Clearly nothing is ever his fault eh? Sigh….

I don’t care which party you belong to – if you don’t conduct yourself properly, you gotta face the music. You can’t keep blaming the accusers.

And with all this I cannot forget that it really could be that his health is an issue and if so then it was the right thing for him to walk away from another campaign and term, but man…unfortunately it looks like cancer is the *least* of his worries now!

Something tells me this story is just developing..and it makes me very sad.


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