Connecticut newspaper calls for Dem rep to resign amid harassment scandal

Connecticut newspaper calls for Dem rep to resign amid harassment scandal
© Getty

Connecticut’s largest newspaper on Friday call on Rep. 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 (D-Conn.) to resign amid criticisms that she suppressed allegations of harassment by a former top aide who reportedly threatened the safety of other staffers.

The Hartford Courant, in a biting editorial, said Esty should have immediately dismissed her former chief of staff, Tony Baker, upon learning about allegations that he’d punched and threatened to kill another top staffer with whom he'd been romantically involved.

Baker remained on staff for several months and received a letter of recommendation from Esty and a $5,000 severance payment upon his exit — a series of events, the Courant wrote, that seemed to protect the accused at the expense of the accuser.


“Elizabeth Esty will likely spend the next several days defending her failure to take strong steps to protect a woman who’d been threatened and bullied — by a member of her own staff — by blaming the system and talking about the good she’s done in Congress,” the Courant's editorial board stated. 

“She shouldn’t. She should resign.”

The paper went on to say that Esty, after learning about the allegations, “circled the wagons, called the lawyers and kept things quiet.” 

“That’s appalling,” the Courant wrote.

The whirlwind around Esty began Thursday, when CTPost.com reported that then-chief of staff Baker, in the spring of 2016, had sent threatening messages to another aide in the office.

“You better f---ing reply to me or I will f---ing kill you,” Baker said in phone message to Anna Kain, according to an audio recording obtained by The Washington Post.

Esty learned of the allegations within days, the Post reported, but kept Baker on the payroll for three more months.

"What’s completely unacceptable is that Ms. Esty did not move to protect her former staffer," the Courant wrote. "Instead, she tried to sweep it under the rug."

Esty has gone into damage-control mode in the wake of the revelations this week, issuing a lengthy statement Thursday evening apologizing for her handling of the episode.

"To this survivor, and to anyone else on my team who was hurt by my failure to see what was going on in my office, I am so sorry," she said. "I’ve asked myself over and over again, how did I not see this?"

On Friday morning, Esty sent out a "Dear Colleague" letter reiterating her position and calling on Democrats to help her improve the House’s internal system for dealing with such cases.

Republicans have pounced, calling on Esty to resign. And the Courant was similarly unmoved, accusing Esty of shifting the blame in lieu of accepting responsibility herself.

"It was a colossal failure of judgment and an indication that her priorities are awry," the paper wrote. "She was elected to represent constituents, not abusive men."