Disgraced ex-congressman Eric Massa (D-NY) settled sexual harassment charges from a least two male staffers for an estimated $100,000 after he resigned in 2010 ahead of an ethics investigation into the claims, multiple sources told ABC.
The payment was made by the Office of Compliance, which has been in the spotlight recently after it was revealed through a report that it has paid out $17 million in settlements over the past two decades, including an undetermined amount for sexual harassment and misconduct claims.
And taxpayers — not those committing misdeeds — are footing the bill for the settlements.
Breitbart News reported that officials were unable to provide any information about specific settlements, citing privacy.
Teresa James, director of the Administrative Dispute Resolution Program at OOC, told Breitbart News said there is no way to glean from the numbers exactly how many of the cases over the past two decades were for sexual harassment.
“There’s actually nothing we can do,” James said.
“This is exactly why there should be transparency,” Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY) told ABC News.
ABC reported that Rice is co-sponsoring legislation that would remove the secrecy from the settlement payments.
Shortly after his resignation in March 2010, Massa admitted in interviews he was “guilty” of engaging in inappropriate behavior with his staff, but said that he did nothing sexual and nothing criminal. In an interview with Fox News at the time of the scandal he admitted to groping one of his staff members. “Yeah, I did. Not only did I grope him, but I tickled him until he couldn’t breathe,” Massa said.
“There is no reason why these settlements, these accusations should be done in secret once they’re adjudicated,” Rice said.