Hoyer: GOP using Massa's downfall for 'political purposes'

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Wednesday said that some people used ex-Rep. Eric Massa's (D-N.Y.) resignation for "political purposes."

Some conservatives had hoped that Massa, who accused Democratic leaders and the administration of forcing him out of office because of his vote against healthcare, would use two cable interviews Tuesday to detail incidents of strong-arm tactics used by some in his own party.

But Massa did little to scratch the surface of those claims on Fox News' "Glenn Beck" show and CNN's "Larry King Live." Instead, he backtracked on his claim that he was forced out and said that he chose to resign last week on his own due to growing ethical concerns.

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"I think there were some people that jumped in and tried to use this for political purposes," Hoyer said on NBC's "Today" show. "This was a situation that needed to be dealt with immediately. It was. With respect to the healthcare bill, it's clear...Mr. Massa's statements, as you pointed out in the opening were confusing and contradictory. Nonetheless he points out that he wasn't pressured and that he made this decision himself." 

Democratic leaders are trying to stem the fallout of groping allegations brought against Massa by members of his staff at a time when leaders in both chambers are finalizing healthcare reform legislation.

Even though some conservatives hoped that Massa would provide cannon fodder that would allow them to expand attacks on Democrats, others were cautious to rely on the former congressman, saying that he had changed his story too many times to be believed. 


House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who also appeared on the "Today" show, passed at a chance to use Massa to argue against the Democrats' healthcare bill, but did not criticize those who did.

"Some may want to involve Mr. Massa or not," he said. "I think when we're talking about healthcare...we have a bill that's going to affect every American and if we had a good bill, we would have an up-or-down vote right now."

Hoyer, who said last week that a Massa aide informed his staff of the charges on Feb. 8, claimed that he had no knowledge of allegations before that point. The Washington Post reported Tuesday that complaints against Massa dated back nearly a year before Hoyer's office was informed.

"The first I heard about this was Feb. 8, excuse me, my staff heard about it," Hoyer said. "We were not in session, we were on the Presidents Day break. The next day they tried to get a hold of me...They got a hold of the staffer on Wednesday and indicated that he ought to make immediate complaints to the ethics committee."

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