Republican Tom Reed, one of the members of Congress who have been most insistently demanding the resignation of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo over numerous allegations of sexual harassment, has announced that he is resigning for re-election in 2022 after being accused by a woman of having made advances on her in 2017, when the politician began treatment to overcome his alcoholism.
On Friday, Nicolette Davis, who worked for an insurance company at the time and now serves in the Army, told The Washington Post how Reed drunkenly fondled her back and thigh and unclasped her bra at a restaurant in Minneapolis in 2017.
Unlike Cuomo, who has reiterated that he has no intention of resigning, Reed, a New York state representative and once seen as a possible Republican alternative to the Democratic governor, fully owned up to the events after initially calling the woman’s account “incorrect,” and atoned for his guilt in a statement echoed by CNN. “My behavior caused her pain, was disrespectful and unprofessional. I was wrong, I’m sorry and I take full responsibility,” Reed said.
The 49-year-old politician recalled his struggle to overcome alcohol dependence as mitigating, not “excusing,” his behavior. “This happened at a time in my life when I was struggling. As I started treatment in 2017, I recognized that I am powerless over [alcohol dependence]. I am about four years into that personal journey of recovery,” explained the congressman, who made “humble apologies” to Davis and also to his wife and children.
In her account to the newspaper, the woman said that on that day she sent a text message to a colleague asking for “help” because “a drunk congressman” was “rubbing her back”. As she tells it, Reed was pulled aside and taken out of the room by one of the people at the table with them.
Reed was elected to the House of Representatives in 2010 and has since earned a reputation as a moderate Republican, willing to work with Democrats in some areas.
On both sides of the ideological spectrum, the shockwave of the MeToo movement continues to splash politicians, who between the public bonfire and the also public atonement for their actions react very differently to accusations about events that happened years ago, and after allegations generally made in the media or social networks. Cuomo himself, in the eye of the storm after being accused by seven women, has admitted that his behavior could have been misinterpreted, in an implicit mea culpa that has failed to silence the chorus of voices calling for his resignation.
Before the alleged sexual harassment scandal broke out – and another one for falsifying the number of deaths from covid-19 in the state’s nursing homes – Cuomo, in his third consecutive term, intended to run for reelection as governor in the November 2022 elections, but his fall from grace makes it difficult to predict his final decision. Both scandals are being investigated by the judiciary.