House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) acknowledged in a statement Monday that Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) “did not protect” her former staffer Anna Kain by not dismissing her top adviser, Tony Baker, for three months after learning that he had punched and threatened to kill Kain, who he had once dated.
However, Pelosi did not call for Esty’s resignation and said that Esty “appropriately requested” an expedited review by the Ethics Committee.
Esty, an outspoken advocate of the “MeToo” movement, helped secure Baker a job at the gun control group Sandy Hook Promise with a letter of recommendation, according to a report from The Washington Post. He also received $5,000 in severance.
Kain gave The Washington Post a copy of a voicemail in which Baker told her: “You better f-----g reply to me or I will f-----g kill you.”
Esty is now calling for the House Ethics Committee to review the matter.
“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,” she said in a statement. “It certainly was far from a perfect process – and I would appreciate their advice, counsel, and review. I have apologized for my mistakes in the handling of this matter. I feel terribly for the victim of abuse. In seeking this inquiry, I want to clarify whether there was any wrongdoing on my part.”
“None of our staff deserve to be harassed or treated with disrespect as some of my staff were,” Esty also said in a letter to House Democrats, obtained by Fox News. “I was horrified and angry to learn that someone I put my trust into could victimize a member of my staff, someone I respect and care deeply about.”
Esty says she plans to reimburse the U.S. Treasury for Baker’s $5,000 severance.
Update: Rep. Esty announced via Facebook late Monday afternoon that she will not be seeking re-election at the end of this year.
"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 wrote. "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."