Posted by Rachel Leigh email
PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL (AP) - Democratic Florida Congressman Tim Mahoney admitted causing "pain" in his marriage but denied paying hush money to a former aide to be quiet about an affair.
Update, TUE 10:45 AM: Mahoney read a statement Tuesday accompanied by his wife, Terry. He says he takes "full responsibility" for his actions and the pain he caused his wife and daughter, but he did not directly admit having an affair.
The statement came one day after ABC News reported on its Web site that Mahoney had an affair with an aide and then paid her $121,000 to keep quiet and avoid a sexual harassment lawsuit.
Mahoney and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have called for an investigation by the House Ethics Committee. Mahoney says he will be vindicated.
Mahoney has 1 of the more competitive House races nationally.
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Previously: Scandal rocks the 16th Congressional District once again.
Congressman Tim Mahoney is accused of having an affair and paying the woman $120,000 to keep it a secret.
Our team coverage begins with Lindsay Cohen who spent the day at Mahoney's office in Palm Beach Gardens.
The doors remain shut, and the staff remain in virtual silence when it comes to discussing the allegations now swirling from Palm Beach County to the halls of our nation's capitol.
Lindsay asked, "He's not here? Do you anticipate him speaking to us at all today? Is there someone here who can talk to us at all?"
And that's pretty much all we're being told from workers here at Congressman Tim Mahoney's Palm Beach Gardens headquarters where we have been camped out for hours.
Mahoney, now accused of offering to pay off a former staff member who was also his alleged mistress.
ABC News is reporting that the staffer is Hobe Sound resident Patricia Allen, and that she had an affair with Mahoney.
When she threatened to sue him, ABC News reports that he agreed to pay her $121,000. The two met at a campaign stop in 2006.
She was hired after his election to work on his congressional staff with a taxpayer-funded salary of $36,000.
After complaints about the affair circulated in Washington, Allen was moved to the campaign staff.
Our Jana Eschbach stopped by Allen's Hobe Sound home. But no one answered the door.
Mahoney, who is married, canceled a public appearance Monday afternoon.
What makes all of this especially resonant, Mahoney fills the seat once held by Congressman Mark Foley.
Foley sent illicit messages to underage congressional pages. He later resigned after the scandal broke.
Mahoney is running for re-election this year. Now, his opponents are calling for his resignation.
But Congressman Mahoney still remains in the race for re-election in the 16th Congressional District.
Juan Carlos Fanjul is there with more on how Mahoney and others reacted to the accusations.
His commercials are still airing on television stations.
Up until Monday, Mahoney had the momentum going into the November elections. Political experts say it will be hard to recover from this PR nightmare.
Saying the allegations are based on hearsay, Democratic Congressman Tim Mahoney called for an ethics investigation into himself.
Reacting to an ABC News report that he had an affair, and, then, paid the woman hush money.
Mahoney said: "I am confident that when the facts are presented that I will be vindicated."
"This is the kind of thing, especially if it resonates, if it stays around for a little bit, it could really hurt him, it could be fatal"
But the only other lawmaker to call an investigation, other than Mahoney is, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Republican Candidate Tom Rooney, who is running against him in the 16th Congressional District, had no comment.
But the head of the Republican Party in Palm Beach County points to the ABC News Report which says top Democrats may have known about the alleged affair for at least a year.
Sid Dinerstein said, "Once again, the leadership of the party intervened on behalf of the offending congressman without any regard to the people back home who were being told this is a family values congressman."
"If he dropped out now, he would be basically guaranteeing the seat going to the Republicans. I don't think he's prepared to do that. I don't think the Democrats are prepared to do that at this point."
Congressman Mahoney won the seat left vacant by Mark Foley. Foley resigned after it was revealed he sent sexually explicit e-mails to under age congressional pages.
During his campaign, Mahoney did not comment about Foley directly, but did have this to say after being sworn in.
One of Mahoney's first priorities was to lobby for ethics reform in Congress.