Esty won't run for reelection after harassment allegations against ex-staffer

Esty won't run for reelection after harassment allegations against ex-staffer
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Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.) announced Monday that she won't run for reelection, news that follows a report that she was slow to act after she learned of allegations that her former chief of staff assaulted and harassed another staffer. 
Esty announced the decision as a number of prominent Democrats, as well as the state's largest newspaper, called for her to step down. The controversy stems from Esty's handling of assault and harassment allegations leveled against her then-chief of staff, Tony Baker, who worked in her office until 2016. 
Calling serving in Congress "one of the greatest honors of my life," Esty wrote on Facebook that "it is in the best interest of my constituents and my family to end my time in Congress at the end of this year and not seek re-election." 
"Too many women have been harmed by harassment in the workplace. 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," she wrote on Facebook. 
"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. In my final months in Congress, I will use my power to fight for action and meaningful change," she continued.
Baker is accused of punching and harassing another former Esty aide, Anna Kain, whose story was reported last week by The Washington Post. Kain left the office in 2015 after the alleged harassment. 
Esty first found out about the allegations in May 2016 after Kain successfully obtained a restraining order for Baker. Kain filed for the restraining order after Baker allegedly left a voicemail threatening to kill her, a voicemail Kain played for The Washington Post. 
Esty kept Baker in his role for three months, launching an internal investigation and contacting lawyers. When he left her office in August, Esty wrote him a recommendation letter for his future job search and gave him roughly $5,000 as severance, the Post reported. 
Baker ultimately ended up at Sandy Hook Promise, a gun control group inspired by the 2012 shooting at a Connecticut elementary school in Esty's district. 
On Monday, Esty had called for the House Ethics Committee to investigate her conduct, a call supported by House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBiden attends first church service as president in DC, stops at local bagel shop More hands needed on the nuclear football Sunday shows preview: All eyes on Biden administration to tackle coronavirus MORE (D-Calif.) in a brief statement Monday before Esty decided to resign. A Pelosi aide added that the Democratic leader spoke with Esty by phone Monday, and Pelosi was informed of the retirement before Esty made it public. 
Esty represents the most competitive congressional district in Connecticut, one that President TrumpDonald TrumpMore than two-thirds of Americans approve of Biden's coronavirus response: poll Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor Mexico's president tests positive for COVID-19 MORE lost by just 4 points in 2016. The scandal would have hurt Esty if she had decided to run for reelection, and her exit means Republicans won't face an incumbent Democrat in the general election. 
National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) spokesman Matt Gorman said in a statement that Republican are "ready to win" in the district.
"Today is a sad day for Connecticut’s 5th District. Elizabeth EstyElizabeth Henderson EstyConnecticut elects first black congresswoman Former aides alleging sexual harassment on Capitol Hill urge congressional action Rising Dem star in Connecticut says people like me ‘deserve a seat at the table’ in Congress MORE’s coverup over her staffer’s domestic violence scandal was as reprehensible as it was morally bankrupt," he said. "The NRCC is ready to win this competitive seat this fall. Democrats won’t be able to distance themselves from the stain Esty left on their brand."
Meredith Kelly, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's spokeswoman, said in a brief statement that "Connecticut's Fifth District is a Democratic seat and it will undoubtedly stay that way."
On the GOP side, Republicans currently have Manny Santos and Craig DiAngelo in the race. Santos is the former mayor of Meridan, while DiAngelo is a former tech worker whose story about training an immigrant to replace him at his job went viral on the right.

The filing deadline is June 12, giving Democratic candidates — as well as other Republicans — plenty of time to file.