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White House Calls Massa Story Ridiculous


White House press secretary Robert Gibbs this morning dismissed the controversy involving congressman Eric Massa (pictured) of New York, who stepped down Monday amid allegations that he sexually harassed a male staffer.

Massa, a first-term Democrat from a Republican-leaning district in southwest New York, initially announced last Wednesday that he would not run for reelection because of a recurrence of cancer. Later that day, news of an ethics complaint against him from a male staffer surfaced, leading Massa to announce he would resign before his term ended.

Massa gave his account of the sexual harassment charges on his final radio show Sunday, when he also suggested the ethics investigation was retaliation by the Democratic leadership for his opposition to health care reform.

"I think this whole story is ridiculous," said Gibbs to ABC's Good Morning America on Tuesday. "I think the latest excuse is silly and ridiculous. We're focused not on crazy allegations but instead on making this system work for the American people rather than insurance companies."

Massa is scheduled to be interviewed Tuesday by Glenn Beck on Fox and Larry King on CNN.

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