NY GOP congressman retiring after sexual misconduct claim

Another political career is crashing and burning due to a sexual harassment claim, this time taking down a Republican congressman from upstate New York. Representative Tom Reed (R-NY22) announced yesterday that he will not be seeking reelection next year, nor will he be seeking any other elected office after allegations surfaced on Friday that he had “behaved inappropriately” with a female lobbyist named Nicolette Davis at a bar in 2017. (Disclosure: I worked on a couple of Reed’s campaign events in 2010, though I was never formally employed by the campaign.) After initially claiming that the descriptions of his actions were “not accurate,” Reed issued full apologies yesterday to Davis, his family, and all of his constituents before confirming that he would be leaving political life at the end of this term. (Associated Press)

U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, a Republican from western New York who was accused last week of rubbing a female lobbyist’s back and unhooking her bra without her consent in 2017, apologized to the woman on Sunday and announced that he will not run for reelection next year.

Reed, 49, said in a statement that the incident involving then-lobbyist Nicolette Davis occurred “at a time in my life in which I was struggling.” He said he entered treatment that year and realized he was “powerless over alcohol.”

Reed apologized to his wife and children, and to Davis, and said he planned “to dedicate my time and attention to making amends for my past actions.”

It may seem like Reed is dropping out rather quickly following a single allegation, but Davis’s claim seems pretty solid. She said that she and Reed were sitting next to each other at a Bar in Minneapolis when he began rubbing her back before unhooking her bra (from outside of her shirt) and placing his hand on her thigh. While you might have a hard time building a sexual assault claim from that incident, it was clearly sexual harassment at a minimum and totally inappropriate. Davis was able to further substantiate her claim because she provided a text she sent to one of her co-workers immediately, telling them that “a drunk congressman is rubbing my back.”

As far as this being “just one allegation” goes, every scandal of this type starts with one allegation. Reed is blaming alcoholism for his bad behavior, so we have to wonder if he made a habit of acting like this when he was out on the road and drinking. It’s not impossible that other accusers could come forward.

Tom Reed has opened himself up to plenty of well-deserved criticism and mockery with this admission. It was only a few weeks ago when he was calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign over his own sexual harassment allegations. Reed was also actively exploring the possibility of running against Cuomo for the governorship if Cuomo were to run for another term next year. Now he finds himself in the same boat as the creep he was criticizing.

Reed’s critics will probably be piling on this week, leading to the other question he may have to wrestle with. Will his detractors be satisfied with an announcement of a retirement that is still nearly two years in the future? As I already mentioned, the congressman has opened himself up to charges of hypocrisy after calling for Cuomo to resign. Granted, Cuomo’s alleged sins are far greater in volume (for now) and extend beyond sexual harassment allegations to the nursing home scandal and the Buffalo Billion corruption issues. But at the heart of the matter, both men have been accused of highly inappropriate behavior toward women, and if Reed believes Cuomo should resign, what excuse will he offer for not doing so himself? Stay tuned to this story. I’m guessing that some New York Democrats will be calling for him to step down in the near future if only to take some of the attention away from Cuomo’s scandals.