Tom Reed, Apologizing Over Groping Allegation, Says He Won’t Run in 2022

WASHINGTON — Representative Tom Reed, Republican of New York, apologized on Sunday to a woman who accused him of touching her inappropriately and said that he would not run for any political office in 2022, including governor.

In a lengthy statement, Mr. Reed apologized to a former lobbyist, Nicolette Davis, whose allegation that the congressman groped her during a 2017 political trip was reported on Friday by The Washington Post. Mr. Reed said that he took “full responsibility” for the episode and that it “occurred at a time in my life in which I was struggling” with an alcohol addiction.

“Even though I am only hearing of this matter as stated by Ms. Davis in the article now, I hear her voice and will not dismiss her,” Mr. Reed, 49, said. “In reflection, my personal depiction of this event is irrelevant. Simply put, I caused her pain, showed her disrespect and was unprofessional. I was wrong, I am sorry and I take full responsibility.”

Before Ms. Davis’s allegation, Mr. Reed was publicly mulling a run for governor in 2022, as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, was besieged by a wave of accusations of sexual harassment and other misconduct. Mr. Reed also said on Sunday that he would not run for re-election, citing a pledge to serve only six terms that he made to voters when he was first elected in 2010.

Ms. Davis told The Post that when she was a 25-year-old lobbyist for the insurance company Aflac, Mr. Reed groped her at an Irish pub in Minneapolis after a day of ice fishing with donors, politicians and lobbyists. While intoxicated, Mr. Reed placed his hand on her back, she said, unclasped her bra through her blouse and moved his hand up her thigh before Ms. Davis asked the man sitting next to her to intervene.

After her accusation was made public on Friday, Mr. Reed said in a statement that the “account of my actions is not accurate,” but did not elaborate or deny the encounter outright.

Mr. Reed had been on a short list for New York Republicans thinking of challenging Mr. Cuomo, who has been significantly weakened politically by the sexual harassment scandal as well as by controversy over his administration’s handling of the state’s nursing homes during the coronavirus pandemic.

A Quinnipiac University poll released on Thursday found that Mr. Cuomo’s approval rating had shrunk to 39 percent, the lowest of his decade-long tenure. Even worse for the governor’s future prospects was a finding that two-thirds of voters did not want to see Mr. Cuomo seek a fourth term next year, while only 25 percent did.

Such results have given hope to Republicans, who have not won a statewide election in nearly two decades. In February, even before Mr. Cuomo’s first accuser, Lindsey Boylan, came forward, Mr. Reed had told Fox News he was “seriously considering” a run.

“We’ve been asked by many people to do this for months, because I think they appreciate the way I govern,” he said.

Mr. Reed, who was easily re-elected in November in a large district that encompasses much of New York’s border with Pennsylvania, was considered a more moderate option than other possible candidates for governor, such as Representative Elise Stefanik, a close ally of former President Donald J. Trump’s. The co-chairman of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, Mr. Reed had cultivated a reputation as a centrist who was willing to reach across the aisle in an attempt to cut through partisan gridlock and broker deals.

“I want to do whatever I can as a proud Republican — and I’m working with proud Democrats — to bring people together to try to win hearts and minds based on ideas and influencing them from policy perspectives,” Mr. Reed said in January.

With Mr. Reed’s apparent departure from the political stage, Republicans have only one prominent official declaring interest thus far: Representative Lee Zeldin of Long Island, who said in early March that he was mulling a campaign to oust Mr. Cuomo.

Late Sunday, Nick Langworthy, the New York Republican Party chairman, said he commended Mr. Reed for “taking real accountability for his actions” and wished him “continued strength” in his battle with alcohol problems.

“I believe he has made the right decision,” Mr. Langworthy said, “and I hope that this can bring some peace for Ms. Davis, who made very serious allegations that deserved to be heard.”

Mr. Reed was first elected to Congress in 2010, triumphing in a special election after the congressman who previously held the seat, Eric Massa, a Democrat, resigned while being investigated for sexually harassing his male congressional aides.

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