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Tilting at Windmills

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October 13, 2008
By: Hilzoy

Cut Him Loose

One of the nice things about watching the Republicans crash and burn is that we can learn from their mistakes rather than repeating them. It's a pity Tim Mahoney doesn't seem to have taken advantage of this opportunity:

"The Democrat who replaced disgraced Florida Rep. Mark Foley -- running on a pledge to restore dignity to the office -- now faces a jaw-dropping election-year sex scandal of his own.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is calling for an ethics committee probe into reports that Florida Rep. Tim Mahoney (D-Fla.) made a $121,000 payment to a former constituent caseworker on his staff with whom he reportedly had an affair.

Mahoney, 52, reached a settlement with onetime campaign volunteer Patricia Allen after their relationship ended, according to a person close to the first-term congressman.

Mahoney is scheduled to address the affair at a Florida news conference Tuesday -- with his wife, Terry, by his side, according to Democratic aides.

The scandal could have repercussions far beyond the Sunshine State, where Mahoney ran under the slogan "Restoring America's values begins at home.""

It's not the affair that bothers me. (That, I think, is none of my business.) It's the fact that he had one with a staffer. That's abuse of power, and it's wrong.

It's not too late for Nancy Pelosi, though. Calling for a probe of Mahoney is a good start. But if, on looking into it, she finds that he has done this, she should do whatever she can to get him to resign before the election.

If Democrats want to show that they are different from Republicans, they have to do it when it's tough, not just when it's easy. If this report is accurate, cut him loose.

Hilzoy 8:57 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (32)

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Comments

He's also very conservative and was likely to lose anyway. Might as well cut him loose now.

Posted by: geraldy on October 13, 2008 at 9:07 PM | PERMALINK

At least his problem is with an adult woman. That's a small improvement.

Posted by: Dave Muckey on October 13, 2008 at 9:08 PM | PERMALINK

It's not the affair that bothers me. (That, I think, is none of my business.) It's the fact that he had one with a staffer. That's abuse of power, and it's wrong.

Well, yeah. But there's also this:

Mahoney is scheduled to address the affair at a Florida news conference Tuesday -- with his wife, Terry, by his side, according to Democratic aides.

Why do they almost always insist on making their wives take part in the public humiliation, even above and beyond everyone already knowing about the indiscretion? The details in this guy's case are sleazy beyond belief - and he's gonna make his wife stand beside him in front of the cameras as he acknowledges what a sleaze he is? As if that makes him look less, rather than more, sleazy?

Posted by: Jennifer on October 13, 2008 at 9:09 PM | PERMALINK

If there was abuse,
Then cut him loose!

Posted by: Neil B on October 13, 2008 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK


"Why do they almost always insist on making their wives take part in the public humiliation...?"

It's bizarre and somewhat cowardly. The wife is there as a shield, sort of like a kevlar vest on a battlefield. And like the vest, she isn't allowed to cry out in pain, either.

Make an example of the guy and dump him quick. Message to other Dems: "We don't do this, at least now while we're in office."

Posted by: SteveB on October 13, 2008 at 9:30 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, Hilzoy, you are 100% correct. It's not a personal privacy issue when it's a member of your staff. Affairs among adults are private issues until they cross clear ethical lines - people under your supervisory control, people getting counseling from you, people taking your class, etc. are all strictly off limits. Failure to understand this simple ethical rule is a deal breaker. Cut him loose and don't look back.

Posted by: HungChad on October 13, 2008 at 9:30 PM | PERMALINK

Calling for a probe of Mahoney is a good start. But if, on looking into it, she finds that he has done this, she should do whatever she can to get him to resign before the election.

Yeah, just like she's turned up the heat on William Jefferson! Go get him, girl! Or don't... what the hell.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on October 13, 2008 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, something that Pelosi's not saying is off the table. I'm thrilled.

Posted by: on October 13, 2008 at 9:55 PM | PERMALINK

Please, do not bring along your wife to stand in front of the TV cameras after you've admitted to fucking another woman. Don't do it, I'm begging you. It's bad.

Posted by: Slothrop on October 13, 2008 at 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

So, letsee... He had an affair. Stupid. He promised her a job, got her a job on his staff, and she resigned. Then he paid her off.

What I don't get is what the heck is happening here? Why did she need a settlement? Why'd he need to give one?

He's not lost his position anyhow, Democrats won't vote for someone who fibbed, generally, but sometimes we'll leave them as-is.

But I doubt we'd keep a guy who paid off someone... Then again, Edwards...

What's with the settlements? Are people who had affairs with married people supposed to get them? Why?

Posted by: Crissa on October 13, 2008 at 10:07 PM | PERMALINK

Sure makes sense.

Posted by: iseerussiafromyhouse on October 13, 2008 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

Unless he used his position to force her into a relationship there's no abuse there (appearance of abuse notwithstanding).

This sounds like the same relationship that Bill Clinton had with Monica.

Not that the Democrats shouldn't drop him from the party anyway.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on October 13, 2008 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

Cut this asshole loose. He had an affair, which is wrong - I don't give a crap, it's wrong if he is married. He had the affair with a SUBORDINATE, which is abuse of power. He had the affair and tried to cover it up, which shows guilty knowledge.

Get this asshole to quit today, and get in someone else.

Posted by: POed Lib on October 13, 2008 at 10:23 PM | PERMALINK

Is there any proof that Mahoney actually had an affair?

Posted by: Leo on October 13, 2008 at 10:34 PM | PERMALINK

Is there any proof that Mahoney actually had an affair? -- Leo, @ 22:34

Well, he didn't *deny* it, which would have been the first line of defense, had the rumour been no more than a rumour (or unprovable). And the fact that he's gonna address it publicly, with his wife at his side (the cad!), suggests it's more than just smoke. Read the TPM posting and then click on the last link contained within:

http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/10/mahoney_media_consultants_jump.php

Posted by: exlibra on October 13, 2008 at 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. Everybody in this story sounds pretty reprehensible.

Mahoney, who is running as the "ethical" candidate, not only has multiple affairs, but has one with a subordinate whose job he threatens when she tries to end the affair.

The subordinate, a 50-year old woman who ought to know better, only wants to break off the affair with her married lover when she finds out about the other other women, then essentially blackmails him for cash payoffs and a job at his firm.

The wife is dumb, and I'm not sure what's worse-- her putting up with her husbands' multiple affairs or her performing the obligatory stand-by-her-man.

Are all politicians' lives soap operas? What the hell is wrong with these people?

Posted by: Taritac on October 13, 2008 at 10:47 PM | PERMALINK

Ditto for the idiot in Pennsylvania who reportedly directed a $9mil earmark to a company owned by his family. The company subsequently went bankrupt. He's up for the first serious Republican challenge in years. Good bye.

Posted by: Jeff II on October 13, 2008 at 11:10 PM | PERMALINK

From the information presented, it sounds like a conflict of interest, not an abuse of power. The two are very distinct.

Posted by: Guy in Jersey on October 13, 2008 at 11:29 PM | PERMALINK

I agree, Hilzoy. We need to send a very clear message that Dems won't tolerate this mess. If Nancy wants to restore some of the lost opportunities of this session of Congress, she could start right here, right now and take a very hard stand against Mahoney.

I don't disagree with Republicans because they are Republicans. I disagree with Republicans because of what they do, and what they stand for. If the Dems go down this same path, I will disagree with them too and look elsewhere.

Posted by: BombIranForChrist on October 13, 2008 at 11:58 PM | PERMALINK

There should be no debate. Immediately relive him of any committee appointments, if any, and start the pressure on him to resign.

Posted by: An Anonymous American Patriot on October 14, 2008 at 12:37 AM | PERMALINK

previously...
Wow, something that Pelosi's not saying is off the table. I'm thrilled.

This a practice run-a learning curve ya know. Next we'll sort through the (big) box of stuff that got shuffled off the table.

Posted by: Kevin on October 14, 2008 at 12:48 AM | PERMALINK

"More and better Democrats" starts early, by making clear that if he doesn't resign, he's got no future in the caucus.

Posted by: pseudonymous in nc on October 14, 2008 at 12:48 AM | PERMALINK

I hope the ex sees this and gets nervous as he runs for statewide office for the first time. I still have the emails sent to the paramour from the family computer

Posted by: moe99 on October 14, 2008 at 1:12 AM | PERMALINK

If you get married, no matter how fucked up it may end up, you almost always start off as best friends. I completely understand wives standing by their husbands, even when what is said completely invalidates the marriage. Friends are there, no matter what. I have sympathy for all involved, but most of all the wife and the children, if there are any.

Posted by: Matthew on October 14, 2008 at 3:01 AM | PERMALINK

It's not the affair that bothers me. (That, I think, is none of my business.) It's the fact that he had one with a staffer. That's abuse of power, and it's wrong.

On surface it's abuse of power and if it's abuse of power, it's wrong.

(addressing posters not Hilzoy) But jeebus, we're emotional and sexual animals. And sometimes we fuck when we shouldn't or fall for someone when we shouldn't. The facts as shown don't look good but we don't know the details of Mr. Mahoney's marriage and his relationship nor should we. And not knowing, I don't know how so many people can be so sanctimonious, can cast their stones so casually yet so vehemently.

Posted by: snicker-snack on October 14, 2008 at 3:09 AM | PERMALINK

Aren't we a little hard on people's human frailties?

Being elected to public office doesn't provide a magic cloak of imperviousness to the urges we all have, and that are most difficult to resist when we are working with the same people day after day.

I have never been married, but to tell the truth I don't know how *any* married people are able to stay faithful. When lust strikes, it's almost impossible to resist. And when it's over, there are almost always hard feelings.

So yeah, I cut the guy some slack.

And besides, since when have we Democrats aspired to be the party of sexual purity?

Posted by: n on October 14, 2008 at 4:48 AM | PERMALINK

"Restoring America's values begins at home."

But ends at the office, apparently. The affair I don't care about - it's a private matter - but there has to be an investigation of why the former staffer got the $121K...Was it earned (legitimately) or was it a payoff?

Posted by: grape_crush on October 14, 2008 at 8:52 AM | PERMALINK

Dems can afford to lose him, not exactly a tough decision in my view, besides, he's not exactly a stellar Democrat.

Posted by: tom.a on October 14, 2008 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

Who in the great beyond are these women who are so willing to have affairs with married men and then threaten to go public?

Do we imagine that this is all Mahoney's fault and that he promised the volunteer or whoever she was that he would leave his wife for her or something?

I just know that I don't feed raw chicken to my cats by hand. My cats love me, and I them, but that is a good way to get bitten.

Posted by: flywheelgrinding on October 14, 2008 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

@hilzoy: It's not the affair that bothers me. (That, I think, is none of my business.) It's the fact that he had one with a staffer. That's abuse of power, and it's wrong.

How many of your married/coupled friends met at work? How many weren't in the same exact job at the same exact level of seniority at the time? Are they all abusers and abused?

I am all for dealing harshly with a guy who would accede to some kind of quasi-extortive arrangement, and I think people are entitled to look unfavorably on adultery, so I have no sympathy for this guy. But the standard expressed above is the wrong way to look at the situation.

Posted by: alkali on October 14, 2008 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

At the risk of sounding concern-trollish, there's something a bit odd about Democrats demanding that a politician resign for having an affair with a staffer. Short memories, and all.

To my mind, the same argument applies as during l'Affaire Lewinsky. Politicians are elected to a term of office. If wrongdoing that falls short of criminal conduct is exposed, the politician should be offically censured and may choose to resign, but is under no obligation to do so. It is up to the voters to determine whether an ethical lapse rises to the level of job termination.

Posted by: ajl on October 14, 2008 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

alkali (as well as snicker-snack and Guy in Jersey) has the right take here. As I read once upon the cover of Vogue about 15 years ago, attributed to Jennifer Lopez: "You can't tell your heart who to love." There's been a disturbing anti-sex undercurrent in America these past few decades, attributable, if I may paint with a very broad brush, to a peculiar convergence of interest between social conservatism and feminism. (Talk about strange bedfellows!) This has led directly to all sorts of bizarre and unfollowable proscriptions around date rape (in school) and harassment (in work) that attempt to define out of existence the natural flirtations and sexual relationships that happen whenever people live and interact together.

I remember a few years ago I saw a French movie about a medical or nursing student who has an affair with her sexy, mysterious teacher. It was a thriller, so she suspected him of being a murderer, and that she was possibly his next victim, so when he got all creepy and stalkery she brought up the issue to some sort of administrative board. In their meeting there was nodding assent around the table as the chairman intoned what I can only presume is the French party line: "In any environment there will be... entanglements, and it is our duty only to make sure they do not adversely affect the other members of the community." In other words, people have all sorts of sex for all kinds of reasons, and it's really none of our business. And if anyone wants to claim abuse of power, then the burden of proof should really be on them, and the assumption should be of innocence (in the legal, not sexual, sense).

orange


Posted by: Alex Chaffee on October 15, 2008 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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