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Ethics Watchdog Calls for Investigation of Congresswoman Esty

Updated: Mar 19, 2019



FACT Says Connecticut Rep’s Cover-Up of Ex Staffer’s Physical Abuse, Sexual Harassment & Death Threats Reveals Serious Ethics Violations

The non-partisan ethics watchdog group, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), filed a complaint today with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) requesting an immediate investigation into Representative Elizabeth Esty’s (D-CT) cover-up of abusive and threatening behavior by her former chief of staff, Ted Baker. Although Congresswoman Esty has asked for an investigation into her egregious behavior, she has only done so after the cover-up was exposed and for limited circumstances. FACT has outlined a number of serious ethics violations that have come to light in this case, including Esty’s improper use of taxpayer funds and use of personal email.

According to FACT’s complaint, after Representative Esty learned of Mr. Baker’s disturbing behavior—which included physically beating, sexually harassing and threatening to kill another one of the Congresswoman’s staff members—Esty not only kept Baker employed for another three months, but gave him $5,000 in compensation a month after he left her office, plus other financial benefits. Additionally, Esty gave him a positive job recommendation and entered into a confidential severance and release agreement with Baker. This agreement also revealed Esty’s use of a personal email address to conduct House business and listed a Gmail address for all future communications regarding the agreement.

“While Congresswoman Esty said she ‘should have done better,’ the scary reality is this was not an isolated incident and she subjected all her employees to harmful environment. Her admission doesn’t in any way excuse her egregious behavior,” said Kendra Arnold, Executive Director, Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust. “FACT is calling for a full investigation into this matter because using taxpayer funds and personal resources to try and sweep physical and emotionally abusive behavior under the rug should never be tolerated, on Capitol Hill or anywhere.”

Specifically, FACT is asking for an investigation into the following violations the organization believes were committed by Esty.

  • Continuing to employ and pay her chief of staff with taxpayer dollars even after he was apparently no longer working in that capacity, agreeing to pay him $5,000 plus other monetary benefits.

  • Inappropriately using her position as a Member of the House, and the credibility and influence that comes along with it, to right a glowing recommendation for Baker shortly after the harassment and threats of violence were substantiated.

  • Using a personal email address to communicate about the severance and release agreement with Baker, which raises concerns that either she was attempting to hide information from the public or she regularly uses her personal email address to conduct House business.

  • Allowing her current chief of staff to threaten a journalist to cover up the use of a personal email address.

FACT urges the Office of Congressional Ethics to conduct a full investigation of these serious and apparent violations of House Ethics Rules.

A full copy of the complaint can be read here.

On a related note, last November, FACT called for the immediate release of the names of all members of Congress connected to the $17 million in taxpayer funds that the Office of Compliance (OOC) paid out to sexual harassment victims and other forms of harassment and discrimination over the past 20 years.

FACT is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency in government and civic arenas. For more on FACT, visit: http://www.factdc.org/.

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The Foundation for Accountability & Civic Trust

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The Foundation for Accountability & Civic Trust (FACT) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency in government and civic arenas by hanging a lantern over public officials who put their own interests over the interests of the public good. 

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