This Is What ‘Salty’ Eric Massa Said That Made a Staffer Uncomfortable

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Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

When upstate democratic congressman Eric Massa first reacted to rumors that he was being investigated by the House Ethics Committee for making inappropriate sexual comments to a male staffer, he was all, "Are you kidding?!? Get outta here!" (and also, "I have cancer"). Then he admitted that, well, he did use some "salty language" at times — but only because he's a "salty old sailor." Now he's decided to reveal to the world the incident that got him in ethical hot water and forced his resignation, which will come later today. As told on his weekly radio show yesterday, Massa says he was at a wedding of a staffer on New Year's Eve. He danced with the bride and then the bridesmaid, uneventfully. Then this happened:

"Absolutely nothing occurred. I said goodnight to the bridesmaid. I sat down at the table where my whole staff was — all of them, by the way, bachelors. One of them looked at me, and as they would do after, I don't know, fifteen gin and tonics and goodness only knows how many bottles of champagne, the staff member made an intonation to me that maybe I should be chasing after the bridesmaid, and his points were clear and his words were far more colorful than that. And I grabbed the staff member sitting next to me and I said, "Well, what I really ought to be doing is frakking you." And then tousled the guy's hair and left. Went to my room because I knew the party was getting to a point where it wasn't right for me to be there. Now, was that inappropriate of me? Absolutely. Am I guilty? Yes."

Awkward? Sure. But Massa says the staffer whose hair was tousled wasn't even the one who reported the incident. It was someone else who was "offended for him" and went to the Ethics Committee. He goes on to dispute Steny Hoyer's account of finding out about the incident, and concludes that Hoyer, and the Ethics Committee investigation, is part of a Democratic conspiracy to destroy Massa, a vote against health-care reform. "This is what Congress has come to. The government is not our enemy, but it is broken beyond repair," Massa says. Truly, when a congressman can't even playfully proposition his staffer for sex, it is time for the people to fight back.

Massa describes incident with aide [Democrat and Chronicle]