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- Democratic Rep. Elizabeth Esty will not run for reelection in 2018 after a report detailed her failure to act after her chief of staff threatened and harassed another female staffer.
- Esty had staved off calls to resign for days following the report.
Connecticut Rep. Elizabeth Esty will not seek reelection to Congress in 2018, after pressure mounted for her to step down in the wake of a report detailing her lack of action in a harassment scandal in her Capitol Hill office.
“From being a room parent in a first grade classroom to serving on the library board, town council, state house and U.S. Congress, I went into public service to fight for equality, justice, and fairness. It is one of the greatest honors of my life that the people of Connecticut’s Fifth District elected me to represent them in Congress,” Esty said in a statement on Monday. “However, 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 reelection.”
Esty addressed the Washington Post report from last week, which revealed she kept her chief of staff employed for several months after learning of his threats and harassment toward another female staffer.
“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,” Esty said. “In Congress, and workplaces across the country, we need stronger workplace protections and to provide employees with a platform to raise concerns, address problems, and work to reduce and eliminate such occurrences, in the first place. In my final months in Congress, I will use my power to fight for action and meaningful change.”
The move by Esty to not seek reelection comes after various Connecticut politicians called on her to resign.
Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy called Esty’s decision “the right one” in a statement.
“I spoke with the Congresswoman multiple times over the weekend and as recently as today, encouraging full transparency with the press and public, and also urging her to do what is in best interest of her constituents and her family,” Malloy said.
He added: “I believe she is now doing that. The truth is, too many facts about how this incident was handled fall short of appropriate standards for responsible and responsive leadership. Fostering a safe and supportive workplace culture for staff must be a guiding principle for all managers, and especially all elected officials, from local office all the way up to the President.”
Esty’s district in Connecticut leans heavily Democratic. She defeated her Republican opponent by 16 points in 2016. It was closer in 2012, when she won by just 2 points. The National Republican Congressional Committee said it would look to the district as a prime pickup opportunity this fall.
“The NRCC is ready to win this competitive seat this fall. Democrats won’t be able to distance themselves from the stain Esty left on their brand,” NRCC spokesman Matt Gorman said.