Ethics panel investigating New York Rep. Tom Reed over groping allegation

Reed, citing fight with alcoholism, has said he won’t run for another term

Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., is being investigated by the House Ethics Committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., is being investigated by the House Ethics Committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted April 9, 2021 at 4:15pm

New York Republican Tom Reed is being investigated by the House Ethics Committee after a former lobbyist said he drunkenly groped her in 2017.

Reed, who is married and 20 years older than the woman, initially said the account was not accurate. Two days later, he apologized and said he would neither challenge Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo nor run for reelection in the House.

“Simply put, my behavior caused her pain, showed her disrespect and was unprofessional. I was wrong, I am sorry, and I take full responsibility,” Reed said in a statement March 21. He noted at the time of the misconduct he was “struggling” with alcoholism and received treatment that year, acknowledging he is “powerless over alcohol.”

The ethics panel’s inquiry, announced Friday, comes after Nicolette Davis told The Washington Post that when she was a 25-year-old lobbyist on a fund-raising trip in Minnesota, an intoxicated Reed sat beside her in an Irish pub and rubbed her back, unhooked her bra with his hand outside her blouse, placed his hand on her thigh and moved it upward. Davis asked a person seated next to her for help and he pulled Reed away from the table and out of the pub, she told the Post.

"The Committee is aware of public allegations that Representative Tom Reed may have engaged in sexual misconduct, in violation of House Rules, laws, or other standards of conduct," the House Ethics Committee said in a statement.

Reed's office said he had "already publicly addressed this situation" and consistent with his statement was cooperating with the committee "to bring this matter to conclusion."

Although he said he will not run for reelection, Reed will be in Congress until January 2023. This means the House Ethics Committee will have time to investigate the matter before it loses jurisdiction upon Reed's departure from office.

When allegations of sexual harassment or misconduct surface in public reporting, the Ethics Committee has issued statements saying it is aware of the allegations and investigating. This was the case in 2017 with former Rep. Ruben Kihuen, a Nevada Democrat.

Kihuen chose not to run for reelection and the Ethics panel issued a report in November 2018, shortly before his term ended. The report found Kihuen made unwanted verbal and physical advances toward a campaign consultant and a staffer on his congressional campaign. The panel, which reproved Kihuen, also found he made unwanted advances toward a Nevada lobbyist when he was in the state legislature.

Reed represents a strongly Republican district in New York’s 23rd and is the outgoing co-chair of the House Problem Solvers Caucus, a group dedicated to finding bipartisan solutions in the chamber. Pennsylvania GOP Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick was recently elected to replace Reed as the group's top Republican.

Herb Jackson and Lindsey McPherson contributed to this report.