Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.) says she will not step down over her handling of her former chief of staff's confirmed harassment and alleged abuse of another staff member.
The chief of staff, Tony Baker, is accused of physically abusing Anna Kain, an Esty aide he once dated. Baker left a voicemail message for Kain telling her, "You better f-----g reply to me or I will f-----g kill you." She has also alleged in a sworn affidavit he punched her, verbally abused her, and otherwise sexually harassed her. She obtained a restraining order against him and filed a police report alleging felony threats.
Esty was informed of the situation within a week but did not dismiss Baker for three months. When he left, he received $5,000 in severance pay and a positive recommendation from Esty that helped him land a position with Sandy Hook Promise, a gun control advocacy group.
Esty is now under considerable pressure to resign including from within her own party. "The congresswoman failed her staff on every level when she decided to protect an alleged abuser instead of them," said State Sen. Mae Flexer, a leading Democrat in the Connecticut Senate, in a statement Saturday. "It's completely unacceptable. Her failure to do the right thing here hurt us all, especially as more and more women are courageously coming forward. It's time for Rep. Esty to step aside."
Update, 6:12 p.m. ET: On Monday evening, Esty announced on her Facebook page that she will not seek re-election. "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," she said. "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 re-election."