Submitted by Conor Kenny on
When Rep. Vito Fossella (R-N.Y.) allegedly ran a stoplight in Virginia earlier this month, he hit the brakes on his career in the U.S. House of Representatives, which has now ended with his retirement. While he resisted calls for his resignation for a while, his drunk driving arrest and the ensuing scandal proved to be too much for his Republican colleagues, who kept up the pressure on Fossella to vacate his Staten Island seat in the hopes of fielding a candidate not under investigation.
In a letter sent on Tuesday, the congressman announced that he will not seek reelection and will retire at the end of his term. He said the decision hinged on his desire to serve his constituents and to repair the damage caused by his recent actions.
Fossella becomes the 30th Republican member of the House to announce their departure (23 are straight-up retiring, 3 are running for the Senate, 3 have already resigned and 1 resigned to move to the Senate - see the specific representatives here). Democrats have already capitalized by winning special elections for two of those seats on top of Rep. Andre Carson's (D-Ind.) win to replace his late grandmother, Julia Carson.
Defending another seat this cycle has to be unwelcome news for Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, and House Republicans may not be free from Fossella's problems yet: Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a D.C.-based watchdog, has asked the House Ethics Committee to look into Fossella's conduct (though the committee does not formally accept such referrals).