U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-CT, asked the House Ethics Committee to investigate whether she is guilty of wrongdoing following news she failed to protect female employees who say they were harassed by her former chief of staff, according to the Associated Press.
The move comes as both Democrats and Republicans are calling for her resignation.
On Friday, she said she wouldn’t resign. On Monday, Esty released a statement saying she would not seek re-election.
It is the right decision, but is it enough?
The allegations against Esty’s former staffer Tony Baker were revealed in a Hearst Connecticut Media story. Baker worked for Esty from 2014 to 2016. He was fired and received $5,000 in federal funds as severance, which Esty has repaid.
According to the original story, one female employee said she had been punched and had received death threats. But Esty didn’t take action to suspend or fire Baker until three months after learning of the allegations.
Esty’s failure to take immediate action came as a shock to lawmakers and constituents who know Esty as an advocate for women’s rights in the three terms she has served in Congress.
Esty did issue an apology, noting that she conducted an internal office review finding that the claim was not an isolated incident. She said she was advised by the Office of House Employment Counsel to enter into a nondisclosure agreement with Baker, who then went to work as director of Sandy Hook Promise. He no longer works for the group.
Despite her actions on Monday, there is still no excusing the fact that she is a hypocrite.
Esty added her voice to the #MeToo movement and joined those pushing for former U.S. Rep. John Conyers to resign over misconduct claims even after she covered up the allegations against her own chief of staff. She then doubled down by helping Baker get the job with Sandy Hook Promise.
What Esty did, or didn’t do, is inexcusable. At the very least, her poor judgment calls into question her ability to serve her constituents. At worst, her decision to protect an accused abuser over the rights of a victim is unconscionable. Connecticut voters don’t need to wait for a report from the ethics panel. She doesn’t deserve our trust and she should lose the privilege of representing our state right now.