Committee Launches Panel to Investigate Massa Scandal

The House ehics committee announced today that it is launching a panel to broadly investigate the scandal of former Rep. Eric Massa--a probe that could examine staffers and other members of Congress.

The committee said today that it will examine whether any other members, staff, or employees of the House had violated House rules or broken any laws. The committee has been investigating the scandal, and, in an official statement released today, the committee announced:
The allegations surrounding former Representative Massa are serious and warrant a full and complete investigation. In accordance with Clause 3 of House Rule XI and Committee Rules 14(a)(3) and 18, the Committee has unanimously voted to establish an investigative subcommittee to conduct a full and complete inquiry into whether the conduct of any Member, officer, or employee of the House violated any law, rule, regulation, or other standard of conduct applicable to the performance of their duties with respect to the allegations of misconduct involving former Representative Massa.

By rule, members and staff of the ethics committee won't comment on the investigation beyond what was announced in the statement.

It's not entirely clear whether the subcommittee will examine Democratic leaders, what they knew, and when they knew it--but presumably it could, given the broad scope of the subcommittee's mandate. A week after Massa's scandal broke, House Minority Leader John Boehner introduced a bill calling for an investigation of Democratic leaders; Democrats punted on the measure, referring it to the ethics committee.

In the findings attached to the statement, the committee states that "Members, officers of employees of the House of Representatives may have failed to properly report or fully disclose allegations of such [improper] conduct." That could mean Massa's own staff, it could mean other House staffers who were made aware of Massa's conduct, or it could mean other members themselves--or anything in between. Massa's scandal and exit from Congress were reportedly precipitated by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and his office, who demanded that the accusations against Massa be brought to the committee's attention in the first place.

Massa left Congress March 8, five days after news broke that he had been accused of sexually harassing a male staffer.

The investigative subcommittee will include committee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Ranking Member Jo Bonner (R-AL), plus the next-senior-most members of the committee Ben Chandler (D-KY) and Mike Conaway (R-TX).

UPDATE: Politico reports that Hoyer has been interviewed by the subcommittee.