It's a tale of four Congressmen whose ethics have been called into question. One allegedly assaulted a woman, was sued by her, and eventually settled out of court.
Another sent suggestive e-mails to teenage boys who were working as House pages. A third is being pressured to resign after he admitted taking bribes, while the fourth has already resigned and has been indicted for money laundering.
The common denominator- All four have received hefty contributions from Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt's Rely on Your Beliefs PAC.
Federal Election Commission (FEC) documents show the PAC contributed $10,000 this year alone to former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, $5,000 on Feb. 15 and another $5,000 on March 29.
Florida Congressman Mark Foley, who resigned earlier this week, missed by only one dollar receiving $5,000 from the Blunt PAC this year, the FEC documents indicate. Foley received $3,958 on April 28 and another $1,041 on the same day. The PAC contributed $2,000 to Foley in 2003 and made in-kind contributions of airline travel for the Congressman on two occasions in 2000, adding up to $3,976.
Two embattled Ohio Republicans also benefited from the Blunt PAC's generosity. Robert Ney received $5,000 on March 29 and has picked up $14,000 since 1999, the FEC documents indicate, while Donald Sherwood has collected $10,000 from the PAC, including a $5,000 contribution as recently as Sept. 29, 2005.
To the names of those four Congressman, you can add a $5,000 contribution on Feb. 9, 2006, to the re-election campaign of Montana Sen. Conrad Burns, who is in a tight battle thanks to revelations of his connections with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Mark Foley resigned from Congress earlier this week after ABC News confirmed he had written inappropriate e-mails to male Congressional pages. This passage was included in a Newsweek article posted less than a half hour ago:
Foley's sexual leanings were also well known, or at least suspected, by a particularly vulnerable group on Capitol Hill. Every year Congress hires about 100 pages, who can be seen in their distinctive blue uniforms scurrying through the halls, running errands for lawmakers. The pages have been embroiled in earlier sex scandals. In 1983, a pair of congressmen admitted to sexual relations with underage pages (one with a girl, one with a boy). After that, the pages were housed in a dormitory and fairly closely chaperoned. A former female page, who asked not to be identified to protect her privacy, told NEWSWEEK that she and other pages had regularly seen Foley stop and talk to pages on the House floor and in the cloakroom, lingering with them and asking them to describe their experiences in Congress. "We just gradually figured out he was flirting with the guys," said the page. "It made a lot of the guys uneasy. He was kind of creepy."
Donald Sherwood's problems were outlined in a recent article in the New Republic:
In 1999, at a Young Republicans event, he met Cynthia Ore, a Peruvian-American grocery-store heiress and aspiring Hill intern in her early twenties. She was attracted to his salt-of-the-earth charm. "Guys in D.C. try to be so suave," she later recalled in a newspaper interview. "They drive Bentleys and Ferraris. Don has a truck."
But, by September 15, 2004, Sherwood's country charm had worn thin. That was the day Ore called the police from the bathroom of his apartment in Hill House, claiming he had tried to throttle her. When the police arrived, Sherwood protested that he'd merely been giving Ore a vigorous backrub. The police, for their part, determined that Ore did not seem to be "of sound mind." A year later, after their report was made public, Ore sued Sherwood for $5.5 million, but the matter was dispatched with a settlement.
Whether Sherwood was really choking or massaging may never be known. But the episode, while no Chappaquiddick, was pretty sordid for the Tenth. "Nobody has any morals anymore," one constituent lamented in the local paper. And yet, Sherwood vowed to run again.
Bob Ney, under investigation over the past several months for his connection to lobbyist Jack Abramoff, pleaded guilty Sept. 15 to conspiracy and lying to Congress. He admitted to providing services to lobbyists in exchange for gifts and money:
Indeed, Ney's downfall began in South Florida, where he had used his congressional influence to sway the sale of SunCruz Casinos to Abramoff and his New York partner Adam Kidan.
The SunCruz case against Abramoff and Kidan gave Justice Department officials the leverage to pressure the lobbyist to turn on other colleagues, congressional aides and politicians early this year.
The charges against Ney are based primarily on his behind-the-scenes work for Abramoff's Indian tribal clients and for a foreign businessman who gave him tens of thousands of dollars in casino chips and cash. But the charges also include the lawmaker's unusual tactics to help the lobbyist purchase the Dania Beach-based SunCruz gambling fleet.
Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay resigned after being indicted for illegally using corporate funds in Texas political campaigns. DeLay was also connected with Jack Abramoff and one DeLay aide, Tony Rudy, has already pleaded guilty to conspiring to corrupt public officials.
(Photo: Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt and other House and Senate GOP leaders address the Foley problem during a news conference.)