FBI investigating Rep. Mahoney over alleged payments to former mistress
By Jim Turner
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
The FBI has launched a preliminary investigation into reports U.S. Rep. Tim Mahoney hired an alleged mistress to work on his staff and paid her $121,000 to keep her quiet and from filing suit after she was fired, ABC News reported late Tuesday.
FBI agents have reportedly contacted members of Mahoney's staff and Tuesday sought legal files surrounding the secret settlement, current and former Mahoney Congressional and campaign staff workers told the network. A spokesperson for the FBI said she had been instructed to say "no comment"to press inquiries.
Earlier, national Republican leaders said they didn't want to wait for a post-election ethics investigation to determine if campaign money was illegally used in Mahoney's alleged sexual harassment settlement.
Mahoney, D-Palm Beach Gardens, has vowed to continue his re-election effort.
Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., and chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said Mahoney and Democrats must be more forthcoming regarding their knowledge of the report by ABC News that Mahoney paid Hobe Sound resident Patricia Allen, a former congressional staffer, to halt a lawsuit.
"It's not a private matter when you're talking about campaign money, which is regulated by the (Federal Election Commission)," Cole said. "Certainly those donors never gave money for this purpose if it was used for that purpose. It's not a private matter when a federal employee is potentially involved. It's not a private matter when a business is drug into this thing whether knowingly or unknowingly."
In a sign that things also might start heating up locally, Mahoney opponents and others began alluding in emails and on Web sites to a possible protest against Mahoney Wednesday at his downtown Stuart headquarters.
ABC News reported that as part of an agreement between Mahoney and Allen, she would be paid $50,000 a year, starting in January 2009, at a job with Nashville, Tenn.-based Fletcher Rowley Chao Riddle or another company.
Bill Fletcher, the firm's CEO, denied the allegation and said the firm "has resigned from Tim Mahoney's campaign and permanently ended our relationship with him."
Cole said it's ironic that two years ago Mahoney replaced Congressman Mark Foley, who resigned just prior to the 2006 general election after it was revealed he was exchanging lewd Internet messages with congressional pages. He also wanted Democrats to answer to what they know about Mahoney.
Sarah Feinberg, spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., who is chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said there were rumors of Mahoney having an extramarital affair that didn't involve a staff member that Emanuel addressed with Mahoney in early 2007.
"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," Feinberg said. "They had no further conversations on this topic."
She noted Emanuel did not know the rumors involved a staff member or any payments. No exact date of the conversation was provided. House pay records show Patricia Allen left Mahoney's congressional staff at the end of May 2007, and moved to the campaign payroll.
MAHONEY'S TUESDAY MORNING COMMENTS
"I have not violated my oath of office, nor have I broken any laws, and I consider this a private matter. I take full responsibly for my actions, and the pain I've caused my wife Terry and my daughter Bailey.
"No marriage is perfect, but our private life is our private life, and I'm sorry these allegations have caused embarrassment and heartache.
"I have requested that the House Ethics Committee investigate the false allegations that have been repeated in the press. I want to be clear that I have not misused campaign funds and I am confident that when all the facts come to light, that I will be completely vindicated.
(Private matter? Yeah, it might be a private matter to you but when you ran a campaign that was based on ethics and then you have an affair, I think you should expect that it would go public. Wonder what Congressman Foley is thinking about all of this? VN8)