“What did Pelosi know and when did she know it?” is the question on everyone’s lips in Washington today. Well … that and the meaning of a new sexual term that (thanks to MSNBC’s Morning Joe) sent us all running for the Urban Dictionary this morning. Both of these are legitimate questions but I will discuss only one in this pro-family forum. Today’s Washington Post reports that Speaker Pelosi’s office was notified in October about Congressman Eric Massa’s unprofessional and perhaps illegal behavior.
Congressman Massa resigned on Monday in response to allegations of impropriety with very young Capitol Hill staffers. Despite his bizarre rantings on television and Pelosi’s silly claim on Sunday that Massa’s battle with cancer somehow is to blame, this is very serious. Apparently the Democrats learned nothing from the Mark Foley debacle in 2006. I said then that the Republican Speaker should resign and I stand by those statements. Capitol Hill is not a frat house and unethical behavior toward staff should not be tolerated. The fact the Foley was targeting interns makes his scandal even more disgusting but, make no mistake, twenty-something staff need to be protected too.
Immediately after college I was honored to serve on the staff of a Republican Member from Georgia. For a 21-year-old, a sitting Member of Congress is a rock star. We laughed at all his jokes and believed everything he said. I may have been more naïve than some, but I was not alone in the “hero worship” that staff gives to sitting Members. This relationship is usually healthy for idealistic staffers but in the cases in which Members of Congress of either party use their status to use “sexually explicit language” or to “grope” staff there needs to be disciplinary action taken immediately. This tolerance of bad Congressional behavior is not new but it is offensive.
Corporations go to great lengths to protect against lawsuits for sexual harassment but Congress seems to have missed the memo. Animal house Congressional office antics died with Charlie Wilson.
Republican or Democrat, man or woman, Members of Congress need not only to live by the same rules as everyone else, but I would argue they should set a higher standard. Moms don’t send their kids off to Washington to get that kind of education. Nancy Pelosi is the CEO of the House of Representatives. Her job is to run her chamber with integrity and she blew it.
As it stands today American mothers will have to think twice about encouraging their children to do a stint on Capitol Hill as either intern or staff. That is truly a shame. The American people deserve better leadership and we want to know more about Pelosi’s handling of the Massa mess. What did she know and when did she know it?