Under fire after reports that he cut a secret legal deal with a female campaign staffer with whom he allegedly had an affair, Florida Rep. Tim Mahoney said today that he took "full responsibility" for his actions.
But Mahoney did not specifically admit to the affair or the settlement, reported yesterday by ABCNews.com's "The Blotter", and refused to take any questions from reporters at the press conference in West Palm Beach.
Reading a prepared statement while seated next to his wife, Mahoney said he was "sorry that these allegations have caused embarrassment and heartache" and for the pain "I have caused my wife Terry and my daughter Bailey."
Mahoney said he had asked the House ethics committee to investigate "the false allegations that have been repeated in the press" but did not explain which allegations he believes are false.
He added that he had not violated his oath or broken any laws. "I want to be clear that I have not misused campaign funds and I am confident that when all the facts come to life I will be completely vindicated."
Instead, Mahoney pledged to continue his reelection campaign. "I have worked hard and am prepared to put my faith in the people and ask for their vote," he said.
The brief press conference comes in response to a report yesterday by ABC News that Mahoney had paid his former alleged mistress, Patricia Allen, and her lawyer $121,000 and promised her a job at the media firm used by his campaign, in order to prevent a sexual harassment lawsuit.
Following the report, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for the House Ethics Committee to "immediately and thoroughly" investigate the "serious allegations" against Mahoney. Pelosi's statement came separately from Mahoney's calls for an investigation.
Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, also issued a statement, saying that he had warned Mahoney last month to respond to any allegations about an affair.
"After a rumor recently surfaced on a blog about Mr. Mahoney's affair, the Chairman spoke briefly once with Mr. Mahoney about his responsibility as an elected official to act appropriately and urged him to come clean with his constituents if there was any truth to the rumor," read a statement released by Van Hollen's communications director.
Also yesterday, the media firm, Fletcher Rowley Chao Riddle, severed its relationship with the Mahoney campaign. "Tim Mahoney apparently included our company in a secret legal settlement without the knowledge of our firm," read a statement by FRCR Our firm did not agree to any legal settlement. If these allegations are true Tim Mahoney's actions are unacceptable and not in line with FRCR's business ethics."