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NY Rep. Tom Reed resigns, cites ‘extremism’ in House

Republican previously announced he would not seek reelection after sexual harassment allegation became public

Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., announced his resignation on Tuesday.
Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., announced his resignation on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

New York GOP Rep. Tom Reed, who had already opted not to run for reelection this fall, resigned his seat Tuesday, saying on the House floor he hoped “to have a greater impact on the country.”

He will join Prime Policy Group, a lobbying firm, his office said in a news release.

Reed was accused in March 2021 of sexual misconduct by a lobbyist. He apologized for his behavior and said he had received treatment for alcoholism and would not seek a seventh full term. Reed also gave up his position as the Republican chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus. 

In a floor speech Tuesday, Reed said he was proud to have “put people before politics” in the House but denounced the tensions between Democrats and Republicans.

“I believe the current focus on extremism demands us to heed the words of Abraham Lincoln uttered years ago as we face a similar threat to our existence today: ‘A House divided cannot stand,’” Reed said.

“But, I add, a house united will not fail. It is time for petty political posturing to end. Leadership must emerge,” he said.

Prime Policy Group is a longtime lobbying shop that, in a former iteration, was the onetime professional home of lobbyists-turned-Trump-orbit insiders Paul Manafort and Roger Stone.  

“Tom has always practiced reaching across the aisle to find consensus and achieve results, and we look forward to him bringing that same spirit and effectiveness to our team at Prime,” the firm’s chairman, Rich Meade, said in a statement.

Group president and CEO Stefan Bailey added that Reed’s experience on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee “will be invaluable to our clients and enhance the firm’s strategic capabilities.”

Democratic Rep. Filemon Vela of Texas made a similar move earlier this spring, departing the House for a job at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. 

During his dozen years on Capitol Hill, Reed’s political identity defied easy categorization. He maintained a conventionally Republican focus on tax relief and bolstering the natural gas industry, but he has also crossed party lines to help pass several Democratic legislative priorities in the 116th Congress.

A former mayor from western New York, Reed affiliated with the conservative Republican Study Committee, but he was also a member of the moderate Main Street Partnership and the nonpartisan group No Labels.

The Problem Solvers Caucus is an offshoot of No Labels. In a time of increasing partisanship, he repeatedly emphasized his willingness to work with Democratic lawmakers on a number of issues — a modus operandi highly prized in the influence sector.

Before he was accused of sexual misconduct, he garnered national attention in March 2014 when he used a House floor appearance to speak about how his niece experienced sexual assault. 

“My beautiful niece, 18 years old, was raped, and we saw that event impact a young life [and] our family in a way that I cannot express,” Reed said. “No one can make an excuse as to why sexual assault is acceptable.”

“It is time to say ‘no more’ and attack this issue openly because so many women — so many men, too — have been so adversely impacted by this horrendous crime,” he said a month later. “We are going to … highlight the need for awareness and education on sexual assault and domestic violence.”

In the 116th Congress, Reed joined forces with Democrats by voting in favor of several measures addressing economic and social issues affecting women. He crossed party lines to support the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, despite his reservations about provisions restricting gun rights. He also voted to pass legislation aimed at eliminating pay disparities between men and women and was one of five Republicans to vote in favor of extending the ratification deadline of the Equal Rights Amendment.

Reed is the youngest of 12 children. His father, a career Army officer who served in World War II and the Korean War, died when Reed was 2. His mother moved the family to live in the house built by Reed’s grandfather in Corning, N.Y., the city where he later became mayor in 2007.

After his two-year term ended, he set his sights on the House, declaring his plans to challenge freshman Democrat Eric Massa. His road got a lot easier in March 2010, when Massa resigned after being accused of sexually harassing male staff members. 

Reed defeated Democrat Matthew Zeller with 57 percent of the vote in November of that year while simultaneously winning a special election to complete Massa’s term in the 111th Congress.

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