Editor’s Note: This article describes instances of sexual misconduct.
Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), representing Ithaca and the rest of New York’s 23rd Congressional District, announced Sunday night that he won’t seek re-election or run for governor in 2022 as he had originally considered, following allegations of sexual misconduct.
Nicolette Davis, a former Aflac insurance lobbyist, told The Washington Post that in 2017, she and other lobbyists met Reed at a Minneapolis Irish pub on her first networking trip as a 25-year-old junior lobbyist. Davis accused Reed, who was 45 years old at the time, of rubbing her back, unhooking the clasp of her bra from the outside of her blouse and rubbing her thigh.
“I had wanted to go on this trip so badly but at that time, it didn’t matter that I had been working hard or that I had a master’s degree,” Davis told The Post. “All that mattered was that I was a warm female body.”
Davis texted Jessica Strieter Elting, an Aflac coworker, that evening saying, “A drunk congressman is rubbing my back,” The Post reported. Davis sought assistance from the person seated next to her and he removed Reed from the pub.
“She was really shaken by it,” Strieter Elting told The Post. “I felt horrible for her, being in that position while trying to do her job.”
On Friday, Reed’s campaign representative provided a statement to The Sun, saying: “This account of my actions is not accurate.”
But two days after The Post article was published, Reed released a statement on Twitter apologizing to Davis, adding that while he is only now hearing of the matter, he will not dismiss her voice.
“In reflection, my personal depiction of this event is irrelevant,” Reed wrote in the statement. “Simply put, my behavior caused her pain, showed her disrespect and was unprofessional.”
Reed said in his statement that at the time of this incident, he was struggling with alcoholism and has since received treatment.
“This is in no way an excuse for anything I’ve done,” Reed wrote. “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.”
Davis came forward with this allegation on Feb. 11, 10 days before Reed announced his consideration in running for governor in 2022 on Fox News. She told The Post her coming forward is not politically motivated, and she would have spoken even if Reed was a Democrat.
In a statement to The Post, Aflac said that they take these allegations seriously and value the safety, security and dignity of their employees.
“When this matter was reported to senior leadership and colleagues who were not present at the time, we immediately provided support and counsel for Nicolette,” Aflac said.
In his statement, Reed said he will not run for any elected office in 2022. As a result, he will neither run for reelection nor challenge Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.), who is facing his own slew of sexual misconduct allegations for which he is under investigation. Reed attributed his retirement from public service to the commitment he made back in 2010 to his constituents that he would only serve six terms.
“I am grateful for Congressman Reed’s reflection on his actions. I accept his apology,” Davis told The Post. “I hope that his words and actions will be an example for others who face similar allegations.”