THE PLANK SEPTEMBER 9, 2009
TPM's Eric Kleefeld reports that Mark Foley, the former Florida Congressman who resigned in 2006 over lewd electronic messages he sent to teenage House pages, is re-entering public life, courtesy of a West Palm Beach A.M. radio station that has hired him to do a public affairs show. Kleefeld seems to think this is a bad move on the radio station's part:
I asked Raineri [the staion's operations manager] the obvious question: Wouldn't some people object to Foley, in light of what happened in with the pages?
"You know to tell you the truth, we feel that the problems that are happening today, by him coming on the air, I think it gives a completely different perspective," said Raineri. "And what's the past is the past, and we're certainly looking to the future and to help people get a better understanding of what's going on. who better than someone who was there and lived it and understands how the wheels are turning."
I asked Raineri whether enough time has passed since 206. "You know, that's not for me to say," said Raineri. "I just feel that Mark is an expert for a program that we wanted to air, because people have an awful lot of questions, and he has answers for people. It's not for me to say if time has passed, that's not my decision. I just know what he has to say now is important, and people have to hear it."
I don't get Kleefeld's concerns. First, it's not like Foley's being appointed to some official position; he's getting a glorified deejay job. Second, it's not exactly uncommon for public officials brought down by sex scandals to re-emerge as members of the media--see Eliot Spitzer's recent turn as a Slate columnist. And, while I suppose one could argue that Foley's transgressions were worse than Spitzer's--since Foley's involved teenagers and Spitzer's involved adults--Foley has always denied that he engaged in any sexual activity with the pages, a denial state and federal investigators have never been able to disprove.
Foley already paid a serious price for his behavior--the loss of his House seat; until he's convicted of a crime, I think he should have the right to make a living without fear of public censure. I mean, if Foley can't be an A.M. radio host, then Sam Adams sure as hell shouldn't be mayor of a major American city, and Mel Reynolds shouldn't be sitting in the celeb section at Obama's inauguration.