by Mark Scheinbaum
American Reporter Correspondent
Lake Worth, Fla.
October 14, 2006
JUST FOR FUN, FOLLOW THE FOLEY FOLLIES' FUNDS
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- When former Florida GOP Congressman cum fundraiser Mark Foley resigned in scandalous disgrace two weeks ago, New Mexico GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson disgorged $8,000 in Foley Funds faster than you could say "Jack Abramoff."
The Foley-Wilson connection is a twist on an old Watergate Era adage, which should now go something like this: "What didn't she know, and when didn't she know it?"
If you are having a hard time figuring out what the breezy ocean climes and fertile sugar cane fields of Palm Beach County have to do with the arid high desert of New Mexico, join the club. It seemed confusing until you let your common sense rule and threw out all of the talking heads on television.
In 18 years, Mark Foley never faced a serious Democratic challenge for his seat. This made him "golden" in political fundraising circles. Some past masters of the art - with no perjoratives intended - included the likes of Rep. Matthew "Mattie" Rinaldo (R-NJ), and Sen. Bill Bradley (D-NJ).
With solid seats or great name recognition, they pulled more money into party coffers than their campaigns cost. They "retired" with millions in campaign surpluses and/or pension benefits often going to designated charities or foundations. Some Members of Congress actually fund "community" or "senior centers" or (in the case of the late Strom Thurmond) "youth activity centers" in their own name.
These might indeed be worthy causes but just as often are places where political pals and longtime cronies can get lucrative staff jobs.
Carl Forti, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, told the Associated Press that his group received $550,000 (in excess campaign money?) from Foley since 1996. Forti said, "We will be using the money like every other contribution to help elect Republicans across the country." Hmmm, of all the candidates in all the races, Heather Wilson received $8,000 in Foley Funny Funds from 1998 to 2002.
Probably a coincidence, but Wilson was one of three members of that now famous oversight committee which was supposed to protect House of Representative pages.
On her official Website and her re-election campaign site, she makes no mention of the money, but in press releases the day after Foley's resignation she said she had already given orders that $8,000 be given to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Giving Rep. Wilson every benefit of the doubt, and believing her story that she did not hear any rumors about Foley's proclivity for minor boys, or receive any complaints, or ever get a tip about it, nor did anyone ask her to look the other way and let things work themselves out, the deal still stinks. The reason the smell test fails is because those who have known Foley since his earliest days as a closet gay Lake Worth, Fla., hypocritical, developer-owned political hack, also know the way real politics work.
The GOP supporters want us to believe that there is no evidence that Wilson, a respected Air Force veteran and solid conservative endorsed by Sen. John McCain, ever knowingly took money from Foley as a bribe for special consideration. If this seems an unprovable amorphous claim, then why not ask "Could Foley have winked at the GOP fundraisers and made sure that money was sprinkled amongst House members who someday might have to be called upon to prove that denial ain't just a river in Egypt?"
The taint (as in "t'ain't my fault") of the Foley scandal in normal times might be enough to bounce Wilson and put another Democrat into Congress from a state which in many social service categories has now pushed Mississippi out of 50th place. But these are not ordinary times.
In the banana republic that is New Mexico, where four or five Hispanic surnames rule the state, and presidential wannabee Gov. Bill Richardson's adminsitration has been filled with scandal, from higher education, to the state insurance commission, to the state treasurer - all his handpicked bubbas - Wilson's opponent is so slimy and sleazy that Wilson might win re-election.
His Democratic foe, former New Mexico Attorney General Patricia Madrid, is now in a dead heat with Wilson, according to the latest edition of the Hispanic Business Journal. Madrid's campaign has made Wilson's steadfast support for President George W. Bush and the War in Iraq the main issue. Wilson has hammered at allegations that Madrid conveniently forget or chose not to indict lots of the bubbas during her tenure.
Foley fallout will hit a number of candidates next month.
Perhaps some of those conservative gay GOP activists in Palm Beach County, who privately denounced Foley's "in the closet hypocrisy" to me in past years, will send Heather a nice check to replace the eight grand.