Rep. Esty announces that she will not seek re-election — hours after...

Rep. Esty announces that she will not seek re-election — hours after requesting ethics probe of her conduct leading up to firing of staffer

Published
Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.)

UPDATED 5:45 P.M. EDT

WASHINGTON — Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.) on Monday afternoon announced that she will not seek re-election just hours after she asked the House Ethics Committee to review her conduct in the events that led up to the firing of her former chief of staff, Tony Baker, amid calls for her resignation.

“It is one of the greatest honors of my life that the people of Connecticut’s Fifth District elected me to represent them in Congress. However, I have determined that it is in the best interest of my constituents and my family to end my time in Congress at the end of this year and not seek re-election,” she said in a statement posted late in the afternoon on Facebook and Twitter.

“Too many women have been harmed by harassment in the workplace. In the terrible situation in my office, I could have and should have done better. To the survivor, I want to express my strongest apology for letting you down.”

Esty came under fire last week after it was revealed that her chief of staff, Baker, reportedly remained on the job for three months after Esty was informed that he had allegedly assaulted and threatened his former girlfriend and then-co-worker Anna Kain.

Kain provided The Washington Post with a voicemail documenting the threat, which resulted in the issuance of a restraining order against Baker.

The Post obtained emails that revealed Esty was informed of the May 5, 2016 threat six days later and forced Baker to undergo counseling but did not fire him.

The Connecticut Post, which broke the story, reported that Baker was paid a $5,000 severance with taxpayer money through a non-disclosure agreement. Esty said she has reimbursed the Treasury for the payment. The Connecticut Post reported that Esty recommended Baker for a job with the gun safety group Sandy Hook Promise but he left the position in Ohio last Monday.

Esty apologized following the Connecticut Post report.

Monday morning Esty asked the House Ethics Committee to investigate her actions to see whether she had acted inappropriately.

“Although we worked with the House Employment Counsel to investigate and ultimately dismiss this employee for his outrageous behavior with a former staffer, I believe it is important for the House Ethics Committee to conduct its own inquiry into this matter,” Esty said in a statement that was preceded by a letter to the committee. “It certainly was far from a perfect process – and I would appreciate their advice, counsel, and review.”

Esty asked the committee to “clarify whether there was any wrongdoing on my part.”

Esty’s review request came amid calls from the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee (NRCC) and Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly for her to resign for not firing Baker sooner. He could not be reached for comment.

“In Congress, and workplaces across the country, we need stronger workplace protections and to provide employees with a platform to raise concerns, address problems, and work to reduce and eliminate such occurrences, in the first place,” Esty’s latest statement said.  “In my final months in Congress, I will use my power to fight for action and meaningful change.”

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