Reed says he will retire from politics

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Weeks after signaling his interest in declaring his candidacy for governor of New York, Rep. Tom Reed has taken himself out of the running. In addition, he will not seek reelection to Congress when his current term ends in 2022.

A Corning Republican, Reed’s brief exploration of a possible run against Gov. Andrew Cuomo ended abruptly after a former insurance industry lobbyist accused Reed of drunkenly groping her and unhooking her bra in a Minneapolis bar some four years ago after a day spent ice fishing. 

Reed initially claimed that Nicolette Davis’ account of the 2017 incident, which was first reported by the Washington Postin a March 19 story, was not accurate. 

Tom Reed

“I stand by my record,” Reed told the newspaper in a statement. 

Two days later, however, Reed tweeted an apology to Davis and announced his plans to retire from politics.   

In the tweet, Reed says he takes responsibility for his actions but does not clearly endorse Davis’ account as accurate. 

“I am only hearing of this matter as stated by Ms. Davis in the article now,” Reed’s tweet states. “My behavior caused her pain, showed her disrespect and was unprofessional. I was wrong. I am sorry. I take full responsibility.”

Currently serving as second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, Davis, who is now 29, was working as junior lobbyist for the Aflac insurance company at the time of the 2017 incident. 

While Reed was allegedly groping her, she tweeted a call for help to a friend, stating that “a drunk congressman is rubbing my back,” the Post reported. One of her co-workers escorted Reed from the bar and she later reported the incident to Aflac’s general counsel but declined to complain to Congress, Davis told the newspaper.  

In his tweet, Reed states that he sought treatment in 2017 and is now “approaching four years of that personal lifelong journey of recovery” after recognizing “that I am powerless over alcohol.”

Reed had begun assembling a team for a potential bid for the Albany statehouse in late February amid mounting calls by members of both parties for Cuomo to resign. The three-term Democratic governor faces accusations of sexual harassment by several women. Those claims come on top of allegations that Cuomo’s administration had deliberately understated the state’s nursing home COVID-19 deaths. 

Before running for a House seat in 2010, Reed served as Corning’s mayor. In Congress, he staked out a position as a right-leaning moderate. 

Reed currently serves as co-chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus. A 48-member group evenly divided between Democratic and Republican House members, the caucus is focused on identifying issues on which the parties might work across the aisle. 

A longtime ally of former President Donald Trump, Reed voted against Trump’s impeachment after earlier urging that Trump instead be censured for his role in inciting supporters who seized control of the Capitol in a Jan. 6 riot that left five dead.

Will Astor is Rochester Beacon senior writer.

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