NY GOP congressman abruptly leaves Congress for private sector gig

(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

The list of congressional departures sort of increased by one yesterday, but the total number didn’t actually change from the last tally. This time it was New York Republican Congressman Tom Reed. He has just shy of a dozen years in Congress and will leave to pursue work in the private sector. The only really unusual thing about Reed’s departure was that he said he was leaving effective immediately. Yesterday was his last day. But this doesn’t really change the map because we knew that Reed was not planning to run again this year. He announced it last year. But I think most of us assumed he would finish his term. We’ll get to the reasons why in a moment. (The Hill)

Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) announced on Tuesday that he is resigning from Congress, more than one year after a former lobbyist accused the congressman of sexual misconduct.

“After almost 12 years in Congress, today is my last day,” Reed said in remarks on the House floor. “It has been an honor to serve with you all from both parties. I love this institution, as it still exemplifies what is best about our government. We are the people’s House.”

Nicolette Davis, a former lobbyist, told The Washington Post in a story published last March that Reed had sexually harassed her four years earlier. The New York Republican apologized to Davis in a lengthy statement that month but said he had just learned about the alleged incident in the newspaper article.

By way of full disclosure, I did some work tangentially connected to Reed back in the day when he was first running for Congress, including working a few joint speaking appearances he did with another candidate I was staffing at the time. I always found him to be an engaging speaker and a good guy.

Now, if you look at the headline that The Hill chose to run, you can see some of the back-story and the way Reed’s departure is being framed. They wrote, “Republican lawmaker announces resignation from Congress following sexual misconduct claims.” I’m sure that makes for a racier headline and more clicks. It’s also technically true, but the actual story is a bit more complicated.

As mentioned in the excerpt above, lobbyist Nicolette Davis accused Reed of sexual harassment a little more than one year ago. At the time, Reed said he had no recollection of the incident or the actions she accused him of taking. But he also didn’t fully deny it, saying that it was a difficult time in his life when he was having problems with alcohol. (He has since reportedly been on the wagon for quite a few years.) It was at that time that Reed said that he would not be running for another term this year.

So as I said, this doesn’t really change the playing field. We already knew he would be leaving and there were already candidates lining up to run for his seat. But since we won’t know what his district will physically look like until the state releases the new redistricting maps on May 20, it’s impossible to say at this point if his seat will stay in Republican hands or if it’s going to become a potential flip for the Democrats.

Reed will be joining Prime Policy Group, a government relations and public affairs firm in Washington. That shouldn’t technically qualify as a position as a lobbyist, so there likely won’t be any sort of legal conflicts in taking that job. One interesting twist in this story is the portion of New York election law saying that the Governor can call a special election for any vacancy in a congressional seat that takes place prior to July 1st of the second year of the term. With all of the chaos we already have going on in New York at the moment with the gerrymandered congressional maps and delayed primaries, do we really want to toss another special election into the mix that will only fill the seat for a few months?