I don’t think I could make up a story more perfect than this one.
In 2006, the GOP hopes of holding on to control of the House of Representatives were sunk by Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL), who was revealed to have sent inappropriate messages of a sexual nature to House pages. The scandal extended beyond Foley himself because it was revealed that some in the House leadership had a hint of the problem and did nothing. (Democratic leaders also knew of the problem, and also did nothing, apparently preferring to save the matter for the election.) The GOP was swept from control, placing Nancy Pelosi in charge of what she pledged would be “the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history.”
Yesterday the story broke into the national media that Rep. Tim Mahoney, Foley’s Democratic successor in Florida’s 16th district, is embroiled in his own sex scandal involving $121,000 in hush money. As is the case with most stories of Democratic wrongdoing these days, the blogosphere (in particular, Gateway Pundit) had the story long ago.
ASIDE: There’s a media-failure angle to the story as well. Gateway Pundit spotted the story on the web site of the Tampa Tribune, which later edited its story to remove the scoop.
The story is nearly perfect already; it’s just missing one thing, and here it is. The Democratic leadership says they didn’t know:
Speaker Nancy Pelosi today issued the following statement on Congressman Tim Mahoney of Florida:
“I just learned today about the serious allegations concerning Congressman Tim Mahoney. These charges must be immediately and thoroughly investigated by the House Ethics Committee.”
Two prominent House Democrats — U.S. Reps. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland — say they heard rumors that Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Mahoney was having an affair and spoke to him about it before allegations became public today that Mahoney paid $121,000 to settle a lawsuit threatened by a former staffer. . .
Emanuel, who recruited Mahoney to run in 2006, only heard vague rumors in early 2007 and didn’t know they involved a staffer or payments, spokeswoman Sarah Feinberg said.
“Upon hearing a rumor, Congressman Emanuel confronted Congressman Mahoney, told him he was in public life and had a responsibility to act accordingly and appropriately, and urged him to do so. They had no further conversations on this topic,” Feinberg said.
Van Hollen, head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, heard rumors about Mahoney only last month, a spokeswoman said.
“After a rumor recently surfaced on a blog about Mr. Mahoney’s affair, the Chairman spoke briefly once with Mr. Mahoney about his responsibility as an elected official to act appropriately and urged him to come clean with his constituents if there was any truth to the rumor,” DCCC spokesoman Jennifer Crider said.
Emanuel may be off the hook, depending on what exactly he knew. Van Hollen, on the other hand, was aware of the particulars, since they were in the blog post that Mahoney’s office acknowledges reading. Emanuel and Van Hollen are both in the House Democratic leadership, yet the Democratic leadership did nothing.