Published March 10, 2010
Former New York Rep. Eric Massa said sure he groped his male staff, but never sexually misbehaved, and he doesn't think rough-play with other men is unusual, even at age 50.
But his aides sure seem to have a problem with it.
In an interview with Fox News' Glenn Beck on Tuesday Massa, who resigned on Monday after facing an ethics query evidently filed by his former Legislative Director Ron Hikel, admitted he got physical with an aide.
"Not only did I grope him, I tickled him until he couldn't breathe and then four guys jumped on top of me," he said. "It was my 50th birthday. It was 'kill the old guy.' You can take anything out of context."
The play was too much for his Chief of Staff Joe Racalto, who apparently was present among the bachelors who worked for and lived with Massa at a Washington, D.C., pad, where the guys participated in the rough play.
"My chief of staff had a conniption and said: 'You can't live there; It's not congressional,'" he said.
Massa has previously claimed his misconduct was limited to using inappropriate language with staffers.
The interview came after Massa alleged that party leaders conspired to force him out of office so they would have an easier time approving the health care overhaul.
"I think he seriously needs help. I've never seen so much self-destruction," she said.
While acknowledging the self-destructive chain of events that led to his resignation -- Massa said he "owned this misbehavior" -- he added that he had trouble translating his days in the Navy to those as a congressman, and offered to show pictures from a Crossing the Line ceremony in 1983 to suggest his behavior wasn't all that bad.
"If you were to take this out of context today ... Can you imagine transporting back to this today? It looks like an orgy in Caligula. And anybody who's been in the Navy knows it," he said.
One inappropriate scene Massa does stand by -- White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel bullying him while they were in the congressional showers together.
"Not only did it happen, I'll never forget it. Rahm Emanuel hates me. He doesn't like me. I get it," he said.
Massa did offer a mea culpa to his former band of brothers.
"It doesn't make any difference what my intentions were. It's how it's perceived by the individual who receives that action," he said. "No matter what I say, it doesn't matter. If somebody on my staff was offended, was uncomfortable, thought I was inappropriate -- I own that. That's why I resigned."