Connecticut Rep. Elizabeth Esty announces she won't seek re-election

Saul Bowman
April 4, 2018

Rep. Elizabeth Esty announced on Monday that she would not be seeking re-election, amid scrutiny over how she handled her former chief of staff's dismissal.

"I$3 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", Esty, a vocal advocate of the Me Too movement, wrote in an announcement on Facebook.

The Washington Post reported last Thursday that Esty had kept Tony Baker, the ex-chief of staff, on her team for three months after she learned in May 2016 that he had physically abused and threatened to kill another former staffer, Anna Kain, whom he had dated.

Esty, a Democrat from CT and an outspoken #MeToo advocate, was accused of not protecting female staffers from the ex-chief of staff. Esty has said she regrets not moving along an internal investigation into the allegations, which revealed more widespread allegations of abuse, and regrets providing "even the slightest assistance to this individual as he sought a new job".

Esty, who has been called upon to resign by other CT politicians including fellow Democrats, says she'll work to improve workplace protections during her final months in office.

But that career came crashing down in recent days after revelations that she'd coddled her former chief of staff when another senior staffer accused him of sexual harassment, domestic violence and threats. "The Senate is overdue in passing that legislation". Baker has denied the allegations.

Matt Gorman, communications director for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said in a statement that Ms. Esty had damaged the Democratic brand and the GOP is "ready to win this competitive seat this fall".

"I can only hope that my actions moving forward and over a lifetime of recovery can prove that I am a better man than I was during the time that I worked on Capitol Hill", Mr. Baker said in a statement provided by Mr. Ricci on Monday. "He soon obtained a job at Sandy Hook Promise, a group created after the 2012 mass shooting in Esty's district".

Esty told the network that when she learned of the death threat, she immediately demanded that Baker go through counseling, but only later did she learn it "was not an isolated incident, but part of a pattern of behavior that victimized numerous women on my staff". In the awful 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 said.

In another statement released Saturday, Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney called on Esty to resign. Abuse and harassment occur in congressional offices far too often, and this problem extends beyond members of Congress themselves. Pelosi stopped short of calling on the congresswoman to resign.

Kain provided The Washington Post with a voicemail documenting the threat, which resulted in the issuance of a restraining order against Baker. She also reportedly signed a nondisclosure agreement preventing her from speaking ill of him or discussing why he left.

Baker remained in his job for three months after Esty learned of the allegations and ultimately departed with a letter of recommendation and a small severance payment.

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