NEW YORK — Tom Pappas, top aide to Rep. Roy Dyson (D-Md.), apparently jumped to his death Sunday from the 24th floor of the Helmsley Palace Hotel here after a newspaper reported that he had made unconventional demands on male members of Dyson's staff.
Pappas, 46, landed on a ledge near the eighth floor about 12:25 p.m., according to James Coleman, a police detective. Police called the death an apparent suicide and said that a note had been found but refused to disclose its contents. Pappas, Dyson and another aide to the lawmaker had checked into the hotel Friday and were in New York on business, police said. Neither Dyson nor the other aide could be reached for comment.
Pappas died the same day a front-page story ran in the Washington Post, describing several incidents that it said were "representative of a troubling pattern of conduct that has gone on in Dyson's office," including one situation in which a male staff member was told that he would have to perform a strip tease at an office retreat in 1987.
The Post described a series of events in which the aide to Dyson, a conservative four-term Democrat, demanded that male staff members socialize exclusively with him. One former staffer, Scott Ourth, was told that he was not permitted to date for the first year that he was on the job, the newspaper said.
Last fall, Pappas placed an advertisement for employees in a small Midwestern newspaper, offering a job in Washington, with a salary of $25,000-$50,000 for "A Young Man in a Hurry" who was "single and willing to travel," the Post reported. The office did employ some women, but they were not included in the social activities that were requisite for their male counterparts, according to the story.
Neither Dyson nor Pappas agreed to be interviewed for the Post story. The Post said that Pappas had a "tutor-student relationship" with Dyson, 39, whom he had known since the early 1970s. Pappas worked in Dyson's first election to the Maryland House of Delegates in 1974 and managed his 1980 congressional race against Republican Rep. Robert E. Bauman.
FEC Opened Probe
The Post said that it ran its story about Dyson's office because the Federal Election Commission had opened an investigation of Dyson's campaign finances after finding that Pappas had received $6,500 reported to have gone to other aides. Pappas and his company, Pappenbauer Associates, received $119,642 in fees and expenses, according to Dyson's campaign reports, but he had not disclosed the fees in financial statements required by House ethics rules until newspaper reports mentioned them, the Post said.
Pappas was divorced in 1982. Police said that they had no information about his family.