US Rep. Tom Reed, a Republican from western New York who was accused last week of rubbing a female lobbyist’s back and unhooking her bra without her consent in 2017, has apologised to the woman and announced that he will not run for re-election next year.
Reed, 49, said in a statement on Sunday that the incident involving then-lobbyist Nicolette Davis occurred “at a time in my life in which I was struggling.” He said he entered treatment that year and realised he was “powerless over alcohol.”
Reed apologised to his wife and children, and to Davis, and said he planned “to dedicate my time and attention to making amends for my past actions.”
Reed, who was first elected to Congress in 2010, had been among the members of Congress calling for the resignation of Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo over sexual harassment allegations. In late February, Reed had said he was seriously considering running for governor against Cuomo should the Democrat seek a fourth term next year.
Reed said in his statement that he would not seek any elective office in 2022.
The announcement came two days after The Washington Post reported the allegations from Davis, who was 25 and a lobbyist for insurer Aflac when she said Reed, seated next to her at a Minneapolis bar, unhooked her bra from outside her blouse and moved his hand to her thigh.
“A drunk congressman is rubbing my back,” she texted a co-worker at Aflac that evening, adding later, “HELP HELP.”
Reed released a statement on Friday saying, “This account of my actions is not accurate.”
In his statement on Sunday, he said, “In reflection, my personal depiction of this event is irrelevant. Simply put, my behaviour caused her pain, showed her disrespect and was unprofessional. I was wrong, I am sorry, and I take full responsibility.”
A former mayor of Corning, New York, Reed is co-chair of the House of Representatives’ bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus.
He voted against impeaching former President Donald Trump in January but voted in favour of certifying the 2020 election of Democrat Joe Biden.