By Jenna Carlesso and Jon Lender
State Rep. Angel Arce, under mounting pressure to resign following revelations that a series of text messages went from his Facebook account to a 16-year-old girl, announced Wednesday that he would step down from his legislative seat.
Through his attorney, Arce said he's also leaving his post on Hartford's Democratic Town Committee. He won re-election to the town committee on Tuesday.
"It has been an honor and a privilege to represent the people of the 4th District for more than five years in the legislature and on the Hartford Democratic town committee. I am proud of what we have accomplished in that time and the goals that we set for the future," he said in a statement released by his lawyer, Jeffrey Kestenband.
"Despite this, I have decided to resign from my position as a state representative and town committee member," Arce said. "I do not want my presence to be a distraction to the very important work that occurs at the capitol and on the town committee every day. I also do not want my family, friends and supporters to be burdened in any way."
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz and Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin asked Arce to resign from the legislature last week after The Courant brought to light a series of text messages apparently exchanged between the representative and a 16-year-old girl. The texts were not obscene but were unusually familiar and affectionate in tone.
"Good night love and sweet dreams and thank you for coming into my life," one message read. Others said: "I wish you were living in Hartford. We be hanging out all the times"; "You so beautiful and gorgeous"; "Really hun trust I think we going to keep a lot of secrets between us"; "Hope you know how to keep things to yourself when we conversate."
The texts were sent from Arce's Facebook Messenger account in 2015. Aresimowicz removed him from all his committee assignments, and took away his title as assistant majority leader.
The State Capitol Police issued a statement last week saying they had been presented with an anonymous packet containing the texts, and had concluded that there was no crime in the texts themselves. But the police said they would investigate if they receive further information alleging a crime or if a victim comes forward.
"Representative Arce has informed House leadership of his intention to resign from the legislature, and under the circumstances it is clearly the right thing to do," Aresimowicz said Wednesday. "The residents of Hartford's 4th District deserve new representation at the Capitol and now that process will be able to begin."
Arce's term is up in January. A special election will be held to fill his seat.
Bronin called Arce a dedicated representative who "has always worked hard for his constituents. ... I know he wants to do the right thing for his district," the mayor said.
Kelly Donnelly, a spokesman for Malloy, added: "This was the appropriate decision to be made in this situation."
Arce told The Courant Saturday that was stepping back from the Democratic town committee, though he didn't give his formal notice until Wednesday afternoon.
Committee Chairman Marc DiBella said the panel will nominate someone to replace Arce.
"We are deeply disheartened and share Rep. Arce's recognition that he has a responsibility to the people he has sworn to serve," Arce's town committee running mates said in a Facebook post Saturday. "Moreover, we support his decision to act in the best interests of his family, loved ones and community."
Arce has served in the legislature since January 2013 and has been a member of the town committee for more than a decade.
(c)2018 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.)