April 2 (UPI) — Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-Conn., announced Monday that she will not run for re-election in November after revelations she allowed an employee to stay on staff after he allegedly beat, harassed and threatened a female co-worker.
“Too many women have been harmed by harassment in the workplace,” Esty said in a statement. “In the terrible situation in my office, I could have and should have done better. To the survivor, I want to express my strongest apology for letting you down.”
Esty said she will use her remaining time in Congress to address harassment in the workplace and “fight for action and meaningful change.”
“In Congress, and workplaces across the country, we need stronger workplace protections and to provide employees with a platform to raise concerns, address problems, and work to reduce and eliminate such occurrences, in the first place,” Esty said.
Esty’s decision not to seek reelection comes less than a week after reports that her former chief of staff, Tony Baker, repeatedly harassed then co-worker Anna Kain, who he once dated. Baker also reportedly threatened to kill Kain in a voicemail.
“You better [expletive] reply to me or I will [expletive] kill you,” Baker said in the May 5, 2016, voicemail to Kain, the Washington Post reported.
Kain filed a report with police and obtained a 12-month restraining order against Baker. Esty was aware of the threats and police reports, but did not immediately fire Baker. He ended up resigning about three months after Kain spoke to Esty about the allegations and was given a positive letter of reference from the congresswoman and $5,000 in severance pay from public funds.
After the reports of how Esty handled the incident last week, fellow Democrats urged her to resign.
“Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty’s decision not to run for another term is the right one,” Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, a Democrat, said Monday. “I spoke with the congresswoman multiple times over the weekend and as recently as today, encouraging full transparency with the press and public and also urging her to do what is in best interest of her constituents and her family. I believe she is now doing that.”