OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
GOP Rep. Tom Reed of New York turned heads on Tuesday when he suddenly announced he was stepping down during a House floor speech.
The Western New York native’s decision comes several months before the end of his current term.
“It has been an honor to serve with you all from both parties. I love this institution as it still exemplifies what is best about our government, we are the People’s house. While I am proud that we put people before politics, there is much more to do,” he said in the House before leaving to join Prime Policy Group, a bipartisan lobbying group, based in Washington D.C.
“My most profound appreciation is for the people of Western New York. Thank you for giving a country lawyer, the youngest of 12, raised by a single mother whose father passed away when he was only two, the honor of representing you at the highest level. Only in America can such a dream come true,” he said.
.@TomReedCongress: "After almost 12 years in Congress, today is my last day."
Rep. Tom Reed announced Tuesday he is resigning from Congress, more than one year after a former lobbyist accused the congressman of sexual misconduct. https://t.co/HbEv5gHVBZ pic.twitter.com/kXGuoEUTaZ
— The Hill (@thehill) May 11, 2022
Reed stood accused of touching a female lobbyist, rubbing her back, and unhooking her bra at a bar in Minneapolis in 2017 without her consent. At the time, he blamed his behavior on alcohol.
The victim, Nicolette Davis, said that she was 25 years old at the time and a junior lobbyist for an insurance company.
“A drunk congressman is rubbing my back,” she wrote in a text to one of her friends and coworkers, according to reports. “HELP HELP.”
The Washington Post noted:
Reed, his hand outside her blouse, briefly fumbled with her bra before unhooking it by pinching the clasp, Davis told The Post. He moved his hand to her thigh, inching upward, she said.
Frozen in fear, she said, she asked the person sitting to her right for help. He obliged by pulling the congressman away from the table and out of the restaurant, Davis said.
Following the report, Reed issued an extensive apology and said then he would not seek reelection to Congress or any other elected office.
“First, I apologize to Nicolette Davis. Even though I am only hearing of this matter as stated by Ms. Davis in the article now, I hear her voice and will not dismiss her. In reflection, my personal depiction of this event is irrelevant. Simply put, my behavior caused her pain, showed her disrespect, and was unprofessional. I was wrong, I am sorry, and I take full responsibility. I further apologize to my wife and kids, my family, the people of the 23rd District, my colleagues, and those who have supported me for the harm this caused them,” Reed said.
“Second, I want to share that this occurred at a time in my life in which I was struggling. Upon entering treatment in 2017, I recognized that I am powerless over alcohol. I am now approaching four years of that personal lifelong journey of recovery. With the support of my wife, kids, and loved ones, professional help, and trust in a higher power, I continue that journey day by day. This is in no way an excuse for anything I’ve done. Consistent with my recovery, I publicly take ownership of my past actions, offer these amends, and humbly apologize again to Ms. Davis, my wife and kids, loved ones, and to all of you,” Reed added.
“Third, I plan to dedicate my time and attention to making amends for my past actions. In addition to apologizing to those I have impacted, including Ms. Davis, I will be seeking to help those wrestling with addiction in any way I can. To others who may be struggling the way I have, please know that by seeking help your life will be forever changed in an extremely positive way. Though the journey is hard please know the rewards are amazing and you are worth it,” he said.
It’s not clear at this point who will run for Reed’s district.