Washington - Rep. Eric Massa (D-Corning) is resigning his seat in Congress. His resignation is to become official Monday at 5 p.m.
On Wednesday, in an announcement that surprised even Democrats, Massa ) declared Wednesday that he will not seek re-election for his seat in the 29th District. He explained that in December he suffered his third cancer reoccurrence, calling the experience "intense and personal."
Massa is now at his home in Corning under the care of his doctor.
Prior to those statements, reports surfaced alleging that Massa was accused of sexually harassing a male staffer.
According to the Associated Press, the House ethics panel is reviewing a complaint against Massa by a male staffer who reportedly felt uncomfortable in a situation with Massa that had sexual overtones.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on Wednesday said he was told the week of Feb. 8 by a staff member in Massa's office about allegations of misconduct. Hoyer directed Massa to report the allegations to the House Ethics Committee within 48 hours. Hoyer said he got confirmation within 48 hours that the Ethics Committee had received the report and would review the allegations.
Massa was first elected to Congress in 2008 after defeating Republican incumbent Randy Kuhl. The 29th District includes several areas of southern Monroe County, as well as the Southern Tier cities of Corning and Elmira.
When Massa officially resigns Monday, the Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives
will manage the office and staff, while Massa’s chief of staff Joe Racalto remains as an office administrator.
Governor Paterson will now decide whether a special election will be held or whether the seat will remain filled in that capacity until the November election decides who takes over in January.
Paterson has until Mid-April to call for a special election. After he signs the proclamation, the election must take place within 30-40 days. A spokesman for the governor says Paterson has been considering this, is aware of the situation, but says no announcement will be made until the seat is officially vacant
Among the names that have been mentioned as possible candidates to run for the seat in 2010 are Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks (R), Hornell Mayor Shawn Hogan (D), and Kuhl. Former Corning Mayor Tom Reed (R) has already announced that he is running for the seat.