Senate Majority Leader calls on Congresswoman Esty to resign

Rep. Elizabeth Esty speaks during a news conference at the Capitol with other members of the Heroin Task Force on combating heroin abuse on Thursday, April 21, 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Hartford — Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff called on U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Elizabeth Esty to immediately resign her seat in Congress Monday:

“Congresswoman Esty is someone who has worked hard and built up a list of accomplishments that have made the citizens of her district and the State of Connecticut proud. It is in the shadow of her record which makes it difficult but necessary to ask her to resign.”

Duff went on to cite lack of transparency and using taxpayer dollars to fund a separation agreement as chief reason for his call for Esty’s resignation.

Also on Monday, Esty on Monday asked the House Ethics Committee to investigate whether she did anything wrong in her handling of the firing of her former chief of staff accused of harassment, threats and violence against female staffers in her congressional office.

The Democrat from Connecticut is as outspoken #MeToo advocate who has been 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 alleged abuse, and regrets providing “even the slightest assistance to this individual as he sought a new job.”

“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,” Esty said in a written statement, acknowledging “it certainly was far from a perfect process.”

She said there was no wrongdoing on her part.

Duff’s statement comes days after a former employee of Esty, claimed of widespread harassment of numerous women on her staff by her former Chief of Staff, Tony Baker.

Connecticut’s top Democrat, Martin Looney, has also called for Esty to step down over the matter, though Esty said she has no plans to do so.

Esty who has supported the #MeToo movement on Capitol Hill, kept former chief-of-staff Tony Baker on her payroll for three months after learning of accusations against him that included harassment, physical violence and intimidation.

Esty eventually fired Baker, but gave him a $5,000 severance and a recommendation that allowed him to obtain a job with Sandy Hook Promise, a group that fights against gun violence, according to the Connecticut Post. Baker has since left that job.

Esty also reportedly repaid the $5,000 and said she demanded counseling for Baker.

Esty issued an apology Thursday for failing to protect female employees who allege they were harassed by her former chief of staff, including one woman who said she was “punched in the back and received death threats.”

“The calls for Elizabeth’s resignation by many in the political world might have been avoided had there been more concern for the victim and better judgment shown from the day this all happened in a Congressional office up and until the story broke in the media” Senator Duff said.

“I was not the perpetrator of this,” Esty told the Hartford Courant. “I think there’s a whole record of what I’ve accomplished.”

“What she does in the future really is a decision for her constituents,” said U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal. She needs to talk to her constituents. I’m still learning all the facts. I need to know more.”

Esty is asking the House Ethics Committee to expeditiously review her former chief of staff’s dismissal, according to CNN.

“I believe it is important for the House Ethics Committee to conduct its own inquiry into this matter,” Esty said in a statement today. “In seeking this inquiry, I want to clarify whether there was any wrongdoing on my part,” the statement continued.

The congresswoman also sent out a “dear colleague” letter to fellow members’ offices Monday morning, writing that after she learned about the issue in spring 2016, she “demanded counseling for my offending, then-Chief of Staff and … launched an internal review of management policy and practices and an investigation into what was going on in the office.”

“I also took a hard look at how I allowed my office to be run,” the letter continued. “Unfortunately, through the review process I learned that threat of violence was not an isolated incident, but part of a pattern of behavior that victimized many of the women on my staff.”