A Connecticut Democrat is being asked to resign after reports surfaced that she let her former chief of staff continue to work for her office for months -- despite knowing of allegations that he physically harmed and threatened to “kill” another staffer.
U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty came under fire Thursday after a report in the Connecticut Post said that her former chief of staff, Tony Baker, allegedly called a young female staffer, with whom he had a romantic relationship, nearly 50 times on May 5, 2016, and had once punched her in the back in Esty’s Washington office.
An affidavit obtained by the Post said the woman, Anna Kain – who has since gone public – felt “intimidated” by Baker, which led her to keep quiet for fear of jeopardizing her own safety.
"Throughout the Winter of 2014, respondent (Baker) repeatedly screamed at petitioner (the former staffer) in the workplace, making the woman feel intimidated and caused petitioner to feel she could not report respondent’s actions without putting her safety at risk,” the affidavit says.
Kain also provided a copy of a threating voicemail that Baker left on her phone to the Washington Post.
“You better f-----g reply to me or I will f-----g kill you,” Baker said on the night that he reportedly attempted to reach Kain nearly 50 times.
Esty became aware of the situation within a week but, rather than fire the man, she met with lawyers, the Post reported, citing emails.
Those emails revealed that Esty met with Kain, who gave a detailed description of the alleged sexual harassment and abuse that she said took place throughout 2014.
But Baker remained on Esty’s staff for three months and even accompanied her to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 25, 2016.
He sent an email Aug. 12, 2016, announcing his departure.
Documents provided by Esty to the Post further revealed that after his departure, Baker was given a letter of recommendation, multiple secrecy provisions surrounding his reasons for leaving and a severance payment of $5,000.
Esty debates the letter of recommendation saying it was “limited” and added that she was forced to sign and NDA by the Office of House Employment Counsel, which she claims delayed Baker’s firing.
A spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, Chris Martin, issued a statement slamming Esty for “orchestrating one of the most disturbing Washington cover-ups in recent memory,” and asking for her resignation, the Hill reported.
An editorial in the Hartford Courant also called for Esty to resign.
‘Ms. Esty had every opportunity — and every responsibility — to at least suspend Mr. Baker on the spot and hold him accountable for his behavior. Instead, she went with the script that has cloaked sexual assault and harassment in Congress for decades. She is complicit.”
Feeling pressure from Republicans to stand down, Esty released a statement to Facebook on Thursday, apologizing for “failing to protect” Kain.
She apologized to the young female staffer and said that it is her “responsibility” to uphold “equality and fairness.”
“Equality and fairness are values I’ve held long before I came to Congress. Now that I am in Congress, it is my responsibility to run an office that is not only safe, but upholds those values and respects staff and their work on behalf of the people of the 5th Congressional District,” her statement read.
On Friday, Esty told CNN that she has no plans to step down.
"For those who have asked, I want to be clear that I am not resigning," Esty said in a statement to to the network. "I have important work to do in Congress including building on the lessons of this horrible series of events."