Massa gave $40,000 to aide

Former Congressman Eric Massa

Former New York Rep. Eric Massa wrote a $40,000 check to his chief of staff shortly before resigning his seat last month amid sexual harassment allegations. The aide is among those pursuing complaints against the Democrat.

Federal campaign finance records describe the March 4 check to Joe Racalto from Massa’s campaign account as a “campaign management fee.” Massa had announced a day earlier, on March 3, that he would resign his seat.

Racalto’s lawyer, Camilla McKinney, said Friday the check was a “deferred payment” for Racalto’s work this year and last year on Massa’s 2010 re-election campaign and for his work on Massa’s transition after the 2008 election.

“This was money that was owed to him for work he did on the campaign and on the transition,” McKinney said. “He would have been paid in full in November 2010, at the end of the re-election campaign.”

McKinney said Racalto has filed a sexual harassment complaint against Massa. She declined to offer any details about Racalto’s complaint, which was filed March 23.

Racalto is still working in Massa’s former congressional office, but he plans to leave May 1 to work for a non-profit organization in New York, McKinney said.

Massa’s attorney did not immediately respond to messages left for him seeking comment.

The payment to Racalto came as allegations about his boss sexually harassing young male staffers in his office were becoming public.

Another male Massa aide also filed a complaint on March 23. He accuses Massa of regularly groping him, propositioning him and making lewd remarks to him and other staffers, beginning in early 2009. Such complaints are handled by the Office of Compliance, an independent agency.

Racalto has been interviewed by the House ethics committee, which is investigating how Democratic leaders handled the allegations involving Massa.

The Washington Post first reported on the Racalto check Friday.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press

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