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Rep. Tom Reed at a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol on Dec. 21, 202,0 in Washington.Cheriss May / Getty Images, file

Following sexual misconduct controversy, GOP congressman resigns

New York's Tom Reed was already retiring in the wake of a sexual misconduct controversy. Then he took the next step and resigned from Congress altogether.

Retirement announcements are not uncommon on Capitol Hill, with lawmakers in both parties and both chambers calling it quits for a variety of reasons. But resignation announcements — members giving up their seats before the end of their term — are far rarer.

In the current Congress, a handful of Democrats — Cedric Richmond, Marcia Fudge, and Deb Haaland — gave up their seats to join the Biden administration, but among Republicans, there have been far different kinds resignations, each of which were unexpected.

Ohio’s Steve Stivers got the ball rolling in April 2021, quitting to take a job overseeing his home state’s chamber of commerce, and in December 2021, California’s Devin Nunes also left Congress to run Donald Trump’s controversial media company. In March 2022, they were joined by Nebraska’s Jeff Fortenberry, who resigned following a felony corruption conviction.

Yesterday, as Roll Call reported, the trio became a quartet.

New York GOP Rep. Tom Reed, who had already opted not to run for reelection this fall, resigned his seat Tuesday, saying on the House floor he hoped “to have a greater impact on the country.” He will join Prime Policy Group, a lobbying firm, his office said in a news release.

For those who may need a refresher, let’s revisit our coverage a year ago and review how we arrived at this point.

As the current Congress got underway, Reed appeared to be in a fairly strong political position. He won re-election in 2020 by a wide margin in a relatively competitive district, and with then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo facing multiple scandals, there was ample talk about Reed running for governor in 2022 — speculation the congressman was only too pleased to help promote.

The chatter ended abruptly in March 2021. The Washington Post reported on allegations from Nicolette Davis, a then-lobbyist who found herself seated next to Reed in 2017. She described a situation in which the congressman, apparently drunk, allegedly rubbed her back, unhooked her bra, and moved his hand to her thigh.

According to her version of events, Davis, now a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, asked someone seated on her other side for help. He obliged, pulled the congressman away, and escorted him from the restaurant.

Though the GOP lawmaker’s office said the claims were “not accurate,” the allegations were detailed and seemed to be corroborated by witnesses. This was a controversy that appeared unlikely to quietly fade away.

Two days after Davis’ allegations were published, Reed, who’d made combating sexual violence and harassment one of his top issues, announced that he would not seek another term. The New York Republican added in a written statement that the incident occurred while he was struggling with alcohol, for which he’s sought treatment.

Yesterday, Reed took the next step and walked away from his office altogether.

If Reed’s name sounds at all familiar for other reasons, it may be because the GOP lawmaker was the co-chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus, ostensibly a group of congressional moderates committed to compromising and finding common ground. (In reality, Reed’s Problem Solvers Caucus very rarely managed to solve problems.)

As for his district, Politico reported:

Under a law that was enacted in 2021, governors are now obligated to call special elections whenever a member of congress leaves office before July 1 in an election year. They have 10 days to issue a proclamation calling a contest to be held 70 to 80 days later. If Hochul receives formal notification of Reed’s departure on Wednesday, that would place the date for a special for his seat somewhere between July 20 and Aug. 8. New York is currently slated to hold some of its primaries on June 28, and others — including those for 26 the yet-to-redrawn congressional seats — on Aug. 23.

Watch this space.

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