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Mark Foley Mayoral Run Would Test Political Forgiveness

Markfoleymayor2 Former Rep. Mark Foley's political career imploded in 2006, when it was revealed that the Republican had sent sexually explicit emails and IMs to underage male congressional pages.

The charges were especially shocking considering Foley had previously voted against LGBT rights, and the lawmaker resigned in disgrace.

People assumed Foley's political days were behind him: he came out of the closet, became a real estate agent and enjoyed life in West Palm Beach with his boyfriend, a dermatologist.

Then, last year, Foley began becoming more ingrained in the local political scene, hosting both a radio show and fundraisers. It wasn't long until rumors began circulating that Foley planned to run for West Palm Beach mayor.

Now, as the filing deadline approaches, Foley appears ready to announce his bid.

Will voters forgive and forget Foley's past transgressions? And, more importantly, should they?

Many local insiders think Foley actually has a shot at the slot. "It will be difficult for him, given his well-known story, and he'll have to overcome that," said Democratic Mayor Lois Frankel, who plans on supporting City Commissioner Jeri Muoio.

"On the other hand, Mark has a lot of friends and I still think there are a lot of people who think highly of him and can get past what happened."

A chance at winning, however, doesn't always mean someone with Foley's history should run, nor that they would receive support from past political allies, as Palm Beach County Republican Chairman Sid Dinerstein's remarks make clear: "Until the scandal, [Foley] had a very positive name. Having said that, if he runs, then the public will be forced to read the e-mails again. I'm just hoping that he would stay in private life and go about his own personal business."

But Foley, who was never charged with a crime and remains apologetic for his actions, seems confident in the public's willingness to forgive.

"People have shown generous mercy," the 56-year old told The Palm Beach Post. "I hope they forgive me. I hope they look at the totality of my record and look at me as a person who left here to serve in Washington."

He continued, "Yes, I regret my mistakes, believe me. And yes, I've learned from my mistakes. Hopefully, like in life, most everybody gets a second chance and is given one."

Reporter Andrew Abramson points out that a number of politicians have risen from shameful ashes: Washington DC Mayor Marion Berry, for example, won a reelection campaign after being caught smoking crack, and Louisiana Sen. David Vitter's prostitution scandal has done nothing to hurt his career.

In the realm of gay-related stories, California State Rep. Roy Ashburn turned a DUI arrest into a moment of truth, coming out of the closet and vowing to fight for equality after years of toeing his Republican party's conservative line.

Forgiveness indeed carries a lot of weight. We all need it at some point in our lives, and we all need to give it at other points. But Foley's public service situation differs. He was a U.S. Congressman who used his power in attempts to seduce underage pages. As far as unforgivable offenses go, that ranks pretty high.

Nothing physical ever came of Foley's electronic correspondences, and perhaps he never intended for anything to happen, but Foley's case acts as an unsettling backdrop nonetheless.

"With underage child type of issues, young pages in the employment of the Congress, this type of misbehavior should disqualify him," said Lynn University professor and frequent media commentator Robert P. Watson.

Despite such opposition, Foley, who has until December 27th to make a decision, stands strong, "If I put myself in the race, the voters will have to come up with the final determination, and that's the joy of an election. Even in my best day, I always had detractors, so this is nothing new."

What say you, reader? Should the public let bygones be bygones when it comes to Foley's past?

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Comments

  1. The man's a Republican, which means he is by definition unfit to occupy public office.

    This is just another dodge for the Republicans to pretend that they're not as homophobic as any sentient being knows they are.

    Posted by: Roscoe | Dec 5, 2010 10:46:35 AM


  2. When thinking of the standards for a public official, I think of such things as accountability, responsibility, honesty, sobriety of decision-making and trustworthiness. Foley is a big FAIL in all of these. Have the decency, Foley, to disappear.

    Posted by: candideinnc | Dec 5, 2010 10:55:46 AM


  3. He's just as delusional as he was back when he was having cyber sex with the 17 year old pages.

    If he runs, it's because his pathetic ego demands it. And he'll be a laughing stock.

    Foley, do us all a favor and take the Republican chairman's advice. Keep selling real estate.

    Posted by: JusticeontheRocks | Dec 5, 2010 11:02:07 AM


  4. Forgive . . . yes. Forget . . . never!!!

    Republicans are only for themselves, what suits them most, never mind what is best for the collective. That is what makes gay republicans so repulsive. It is bad enough that as republicans they only care what suits them, but to hate the rest of the gay community as much as straight republicans do, and work with a party that is working overtime to deny gay people their civil rights.

    So, while one can forgive a gay republican, one must never forget the disdain they have for the rest of the gay community.

    Posted by: Ricco | Dec 5, 2010 11:09:12 AM


  5. Proving once again that politicians are missing the shame gene.

    Posted by: patrick nyc | Dec 5, 2010 12:04:27 PM


  6. Sorry, I cannot trust gay republicans. Period. They are members of the Homocon/GOProud, who simply deny their self-loathing. They should resolve any self-loathing they have as gays first, before they think of running for political office where their decisions will affect the lives of many people both LGBT and right-minded straights.

    Posted by: Theo | Dec 5, 2010 12:14:02 PM


  7. @PATRICK: I completely agree........Where is an iota of any sense of shame ?

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Dec 5, 2010 12:14:48 PM


  8. As a West Palm Beach voter, I will be doing my best to remind everyone I know about Mark Foley and his past, and hopefully keep him out of office. He was was never truly punished for his behavior. He has just made more money, and made himself more comfortable. He obviously has no shame. No forgiveness from me. He may not have molested anyone, but for me, what he did do was inappropriate enough to keep him out of office forever.

    Posted by: Critifur | Dec 5, 2010 12:17:43 PM


  9. I can never support Foley because of his years as a hypocrite. The fact that he talked dirty to 17 year old pages on line I could care less about.

    Posted by: JimSur212 | Dec 5, 2010 12:49:21 PM


  10. How many heads does a viper have?

    Posted by: rozz01 | Dec 5, 2010 12:51:05 PM


  11. Hey, I'm all for foregiveness & giving a second chance, but his actions toward the pages verge on pedophilia. And in a court, maybe crossed the line. Not an inspiring leader and not a good example to anyone.
    He should not run for anything other than the bed he and the dermatolgist share.

    Posted by: scott | Dec 5, 2010 12:58:17 PM


  12. He'll just follow the Republican mantra: cut taxes and services (as long as those services don't affect them personally).

    Posted by: sandman | Dec 5, 2010 1:01:30 PM


  13. No. Why vote for him? Just because he came out of the closet?

    Posted by: sysm29 | Dec 5, 2010 1:55:47 PM


  14. @Scott

    Why are you buying into heterosexual propaganda that sex with a 17 year old "verges on pedophilia?" The American Psychiatric Association defines pedophilia as sexual attraction to pre-pubescent children under the age of 13. How does sexual interest in a 17 year old, which is legal in all but 5 states in the union, equate to pedophilia? Now, an adult having sex with a 17 year old is inappropriate, even if it is not illegal. But, why propagate the misuse of a word that our hetero haters use to attack us? It baffles my mind when gay people do that.

    Posted by: JimSur212 | Dec 5, 2010 2:21:39 PM


  15. In order to vote for Mark Foley one would have to have a reason to vote for Mark Foley, wouldn't one?

    Posted by: Glenn I | Dec 5, 2010 2:32:34 PM


  16. if this was anyone else he would be on a sex offender registry having to report his every move. this man used power against young people. maybe he could become a priest?

    Posted by: walter | Dec 5, 2010 2:48:06 PM


  17. @ walter

    Just because we like to have sex in the ass doesn't mean we have to speak out of it. Foley's sex talk was inappropriate. The late Democratic Congressman Gerry Studds went further and had sex with a 16 year old page -and went on to get re-elected many times. The age of consent in DC is 16 as it is in most states. Neither Foley nor Studds broke any law. So why would any of this land anyone on the sex offender registry? Everything wrong isn't criminal - and shouldn't be.

    Posted by: JimSur212 | Dec 5, 2010 5:09:42 PM


  18. @Jimsus212: Age of consent laws range enormously in the US, with the most common being 16. Exceptions and loopholes exist in some states down to the age of 12 (though 14 and 15 are much more common), but in almost every case the younger person's sex partner has to be within a certain age range---usually 3 or 4 years older, but in a couple cases up to 10 or 12. And in a very few cases (say, Virginia) an 18-year-old can be prosecuted for having sex with a 17-year-old.

    In any case, Foley was way beyond the age guidelines if he'd engaged in sexual activity, whether in DC (16-year-olds can have sex with someone up to 20, so Studds did break a law unless the laws have since changed) or Florida (16- and 17-year-olds can have sex with someone up to age 23).

    But I agree that it's not pedophilia and that, as with most sex-related issues, much of our country likes to pretend that anyone under 18 is a victim if they engage in sex with anyone older, and anyone older who does so is a pervert. I went to college at 16 and had sexual contact with several people in their early 20s, and was quite capable of making safe, informed decisions about those contacts. But those people could have been prosecuted in Massachusetts (where I went as a freshman) or Virginia (where I transferred when I was 17).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ages_of_consent_in_North_America#United_States

    Posted by: Paul R | Dec 5, 2010 8:12:56 PM


  19. These people like Foley just don't know when to call it a day. Mr. Foley can't find anything outside the public sector to occupy himself with? Maybe he could make some amends by working on gay causes, specifically stuff like homeless and abused gay youth. Of course, he'd have to keep his hands off them.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Dec 5, 2010 10:24:04 PM


  20. Paul,

    The general rule of thumb in America is no greater than a two year spread for under-age teenagers.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Dec 5, 2010 10:27:11 PM


  21. He must be running on the Hypocrite Party ticket. I hope he can find some juicy young teenage boys to hold signs...

    Posted by: wimsy | Dec 6, 2010 9:23:42 AM


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