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Associated Press/Photo by J. Pat Carter (file)

Troubled congressional seat

Politics | Florida Rep. Tim Mahoney, who replaced a disgraced Mark Foley in 2006, finds himself embroiled in scandal just weeks before Election Day

The story of hypocrisy among politicians is as old as politics itself, but it doesn't often happen in such rapid succession.

Congressman Tim Mahoney, D-Fla., who is married, has been accused of having an affair with a former staffer, according to an ABC News report based on sources in Mahoney's own offices.

Then hours after he responded to the report, another purported affair with a second woman surfaced, based on information a person close to his campaign provided to the Associated Press. The affair, the source said, was happening about the same time as his other alleged affair with a staffer.

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Before the second purported affair became public, Mahoney issued a statement taking "full responsibility for my actions and the pain I have caused my wife, Terry, and my daughter Bailey."

He added, "No marriage is perfect, but our private life is our private life."

Mahoney asserted that he has not done anything illegal.

"I have not violated my oath of office, nor have I violated any laws," he said.

The staffer involved in the first reported affair, Patricia Allen, tried to end the two-year relationship after discovering Mahoney was involved in affairs with other women. He then threatened to fire her.

According to a taped phone conversation from Jan. 20, 2008, acquired by ABC News, Mahoney told Allen, "You work at my pleasure."

Mahoney replaced in Congress the disgraced Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., who had been caught sending lurid emails to congressional pages in 2006. Mahoney's campaign to take Foley's seat was based on his values of "faith, family, and personal responsibility." His affair with Allen allegedly began during that campaign.

"Every generation has a responsibility of turning over to the next generation an America that's more moral and one that offers greater opportunity to their children," said Mahoney in a campaign ad that ran during his 2006 bid for Congress.

The spot closes with shots of him at the dinner table with his family.

Allen sued Mahoney, according to ABC's report, and she received a settlement of $121,000 as well as the promise of a job elsewhere to hush her. Mahoney said he did not use campaign money to pay Allen.

The second affair, according to AP's source, was with a high-ranking official in Martin County, Fla., which is located in Mahoney's congressional district.

The person said Mahoney was having the relationship while he also was lobbying the Federal Emergency Management Agency for a $3.4 million reimbursement for Martin County to cover damage caused by hurricanes in 2004. FEMA approved the money late last year, according to AP.

With these reports coming out just weeks before the election, the news is potentially lethal for Mahoney's political future. His contender, Republican Tom Rooney, was already inching closer to the seat in the Republican-leaning West Palm Beach district. Some say Mahoney only won the seat in the first place because Foley's scandal came out right before the 2006 election. Now Mahoney is in the same position. Even if he withdraws from the race, as Foley did, his name still will appear on the ballot. That fact alone would be politically damaging to any Democrat taking his place in the race.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has called for an immediate investigation into the allegations. A source close to the Mahoney campaign told AP that the FBI is conducting its own investigation.
Updates from the Associated Press: Federal official: FBI investigating Mahoney

Emily Belz
Emily Belz

Emily, who has covered everything from political infighting to pet salons for The Indianapolis Star, The Hill, and the New York Daily News, reports for WORLD from New York City. Follow Emily on Twitter @emzleb.

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