As the sex scandal surrounding Congressman Tim Mahoney (D-FL) continues to evolve, I find myself amazed at the parallels with his immediate predecessor from Florida's 16th District, the infamous Mark Foley.
- Both men ran on platforms of morality.
- Both men were entangled in sex scandals.
- Both men exploited the power of their office to facilitate their misconduct.
- Both men had their peccadilloes discovered by leaders of their party, who did not expose it.
- Both men's peccadilloes were exposed when the objects of their affection shared communications with the press.
Foley, who had established himself as a champion of exploited children, apparently had a fondness for young men. More specifically, that niche of the market known as "barely legal." He chose to target past and present congressional pages, but first he'd make sure they were above the age of consent before pursuing them further. He also apparently never "closed the deal" with any of them beyond salacious e-mails, and doesn't appear to have violated any laws. He eventually resigned in disgrace.
In the aftermath, it came out that several Republican leaders had had been given some notices about Foley's conduct, but never exposed it or took any action. This was used by the Democrats as part of their "culture of corruption" campaign theme that helped them win both Houses in 2006.
Mahoney, the Democrat who took Foley's seat in Congress, is a married man who ran partly on his status as a champion of family values. He also had an affair with a campaign volunteer who he later hired for his Congressional staff. When the affair ended, he fired her and threatened to withhold her final paycheck if she revealed the relationship. When she threatened to sue him, he arranged for her to be paid over $100,000 for her silence.
It has been revealed that several leading Democrats in the House -- such as Rahm Emanuel and Chris Van Hollen -- were aware of at least the rumors surrounding Mahoney's conduct, but did nothing besides warn him to be careful lest it affect his re-election bid.
It is also unclear whether or not Mahoney violated any laws. In most cases, an employer who dismisses a subordinate after ending a sexual relationship and threatens to withhold their final paycheck if they don't keep silent is breaking several laws. But Congress routinely exempts itself from many of the laws they pass, so I don't know if Mahoney was safely acting like a petty, vindictive asshole with his threats.
Both Florida officials and the FBI investigated the Foley case, but in the end no charges were filed.
The FBI is currently investigating Mahoney.
As I said, the parallels are remarkable. But even more unbelievable are the differences.
Many of the same people who howled for Foley's head are doing all they can to studiously ignore Mahoney. I have yet to hear a single Democrat rail against him and his heavy-handed treatment of his former lover, to discuss the FBI investigation, or admit that they knew about his misconduct and decided it was no one's business.
Further, the press coverage of Mahoney has been almost minuscule compared to the feeding frenzy that surrounded Foley.
Make no mistake: while I think that Foley didn't break any laws, I still think he is vile, despicable scum and am delighted that he has been exposed and hounded out of office. I am relieved that he has this permanent taint on his name and reputation -- lord knows he earned every bit of it.
But I think that Mahoney deserves at least as much revilement.
The fact that he isn't being treated like Foley exposes the double standard when it comes to Democrats and women's issues -- as long as the issue isn't abortion.
Barack Obama was caught, on tape, calling a female reporter "sweetie" in a very dismissive tone -- and was given a pass.
Bill Clinton carried on an affair with a subordinate in the age when such relationships were considered exploitative when there was that much of a power discrepancy between the man and the woman in the workplace, and lied under oath to protect himself from another case where sexual harassment of an underling was alleged. He, too, was given repeated passes. Indeed, Time Magazine's Tina Burleigh once stated that "I'd be happy to give him (President Bill Clinton) a blowjob just to thank him for keeping abortion legal."
Ted Kennedy spent decades as a carousing womanizer, and even killed one while partying on Cape Cod.
And here we have a Democratic congressman who started an affair with a campaign staffer, brought her to DC and put her on the federal payroll, then when he grew tired of her charms fired her and threatened her to keep her silent about the affair. Another fine, outstanding example of how certain Democratic men -- regardless of their politics -- treat women in their private lives.
And how they are excused from their reprehensible behavior because of how they vote on key issues.
Mahoney, by his own words, is a bullying, despicable scumbag. He needs to be rejected, shunned, and investigated for any laws he might have violated in the treatment of his ex-lover.
And those Democrats who were aware -- or, to use the Foley standard, "should have been aware" -- of what he was up to need to be exposed as well.
But I ain't holding my breath over it.