Connecticut U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty says she won't seek re-election amid calls for her to resign because of her handling of a sexual harassment case involving her former chief of staff.
The Democrat issued a statement Monday saying she has determined it's in the best interest of her constituents and her family to end her time in Congress at the end of this year "and not seek re-election." Esty is in the middle of her third term.
Esty is again apologizing to a former female member of her staff who said she was punched in the back and received death threats in 2016. The man accused of punching her was not fired for several months, pending an internal investigation.
Esty says she'll work to improve workplace protections during her final months in office.
Esty issued the following statement Monday afternoon.
“From being a room parent in a first grade classroom to serving on the library board, town council, state house and U.S. Congress, I went into public service to fight for equality, justice, and fairness,” Esty said. “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. 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. Too many women have been harmed by harassment in the workplace. In the terrible situation in my office, I could have and should have done better. To the survivor, I want to express my strongest apology for letting you down. In Congress, and workplaces across the country, we need stronger workplace protections and to provide employees with a platform to raise concerns, address problems, and work to reduce and eliminate such occurrences, in the first place. In my final months in Congress, I will use my power to fight for action and meaningful change. I’m proud of the work I’ve done in Congress fighting for what’s best for Connecticut: working for gun violence prevention and safer communities for our children, supporting our veterans, and fighting for women’s equality and access to health care. On these critical issues and many more, there is still so much at stake for my district and for our nation. I intend to spend the coming months doing what I’ve always done: working hard each and every day for the people of Connecticut.”
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, released the following statement Monday afternoon after Esty made her announcement.
“This decision is the right one,” Blumenthal said in the statement. “Elizabeth Esty has done much good and fought relentlessly for highly significant causes like gun safety. She made profound mistakes, as she has acknowledged. Harassment and assault in any workplace are unacceptable.”
Fellow Connecticut Democrat and U.S. Senator Chris Murphy also released a statement Monday afternoon.
“Elizabeth is a friend and a colleague, who has fought hard on behalf of the people she represents for the past six years,” the statement reads. “I have spoken to Elizabeth at length over the past few days, and I support her decision to not seek re-election. No one should ever be harassed, assaulted or intimidated at work. Elizabeth knows she handled the dismissal of her former Chief of Staff badly. The decision she made today is the right one for her, and I look forward to working with her during the remainder of her term.”
The Associated Press 2018 contributed to this report.