House Democrats have stopped a Republican bid to force an investigation into whether Democratic leaders covered up allegations that former Rep. Eric Massa sexually harassed male employees.
House Republican Leader John Boehner (BAY'-nur) attempted to order the House ethics committee to investigate and report to the House by June 30. Instead, the House voted 402-1 to allow the panel to determine the next step — a move that could kill any further investigation.
Democratic leaders have denied any cover up. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said when he learned of the allegations from a Massa aide, he demanded the matter be sent to ethics within 48 hours. The ethics committee ended its investigation on Monday because Massa's resignation took the case out of the panel's jurisdiction.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
WASHINGTON (AP) — House Minority Leader John Boehner said Thursday he wants the ethics panel probe of former Rep. Eric Massa reopened to find out what Democratic leaders and their staff knew about the allegations.
The Ohio Republican said there are many unanswered questions surrounding the sexual harassment allegations that were made against the New York Democrat. Boehner said he plans to file a House resolution on the matter later Thursday to "get to the bottom" of those questions.
Seeking to recapture control of the House in the midterm elections, Republicans have been portraying Massa as the latest symbol of Democratic ethical misconduct.
Republicans are mindful that GOP ethical misconduct was one reason the party lost control of the House in the 2006 elections. The Republicans were badly damaged by the case of then-Rep. Mark Foley, a Florida GOP lawmaker who sent sexually suggestive messages to former male pages. The party's woes worsened when it was learned that Republican leaders knew of the misconduct and took no action.
A Boehner spokesman said Thursday that the congressman's resolution will direct the ethics panel to fully investigate what House Democratic leaders and their staffers knew prior to March 3, 2010 about the allegations against Massa, and what actions they took after learning of the charges.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, House Democratic Campaign Committee chairman, confirmed earlier this week that the ethics panel had ended its investigation of Massa's alleged harassment of male staff members after Massa surrendered his seat.
But Van Hollen quickly acknowledged in an ABC News Web cast that Massa staff members who complained of harassment can still pursue the case in other forums.
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