U.S. Rep. Tom Reed of New York apologized Sunday for sexual misconduct following allegations that a former lobbyist made against him. He said in a statement he took “full responsibility” for his actions.
Reed, who was first elected to Congress in 2010, said Sunday that he would not seek election to public office in 2022. The six-term Republican previously said he would not serve more than six terms in the House of Representatives, but he had been considering a run for New York governor next year.
The accusations made by Nicolette Davis, a former lobbyist, were first reported by The Washington Post on Friday. Davis told the paper that during a 2017 networking trip in Minneapolis a group, including lobbyists and Reed, stopped at an Irish pub in the city.
She told the Post that a drunk Reed unhooked her bra from the outside of her blouse and moved his hand up her thigh. Davis, 25 at the time and a junior lobbyist for the insurance company Aflac, said she asked for help from a colleague sitting next to her, who intervened and stopped Reed.
Reed first denied Davis’ account, telling the Post, “This account of my actions is not accurate.” He declined to respond to further questions from the newspaper.
But on Sunday Reed backed down from his denial. He said while he doesn’t recall the interaction with Davis, he believed her.
“I hear her voice and will not dismiss her. In reflection, my personal depiction of this event is irrelevant,” he said. “Simply put, my behavior caused her pain, showed her disrespect and was unprofessional. I was wrong, I am sorry, and I take full responsibility.”
He went on to say the events of Davis’ story occurred at a time when he was struggling with alcoholism. Reed said he has since received treatment for his addiction.
“This is in no way an excuse for anything I’ve done,” he said in his statement. “Consistent with my recovery, I publicly take ownership of my past actions, offer this amends and humbly apologize again to Ms. Davis, my wife and kids, loved ones, and to all of you.”
Reed has repeatedly been outspoken about sexual harassment and misconduct following the explosion of the #MeToo campaign in late 2017.
As several women stepped forward to accuse New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of harassment or other acts of misconduct in recent weeks, Reed had called for him to be impeached.
In 2017, Reed supported a House resolution requiring lawmakers and their staff to receive workplace sexual harassment training. He also supported legislation in 2018 that required lawmakers to be held personally liable for lawsuit settlements with staffers alleging harassment.