FBI Reported to Begin Probe of Florida Congressman

The FBI has reportedly begun its own preliminary investigation into an ABC News report that West Palm Beach Congressman Tim Mahoney (D-FL) hired an alleged mistress to work on his official staff and then paid her $121,000 to keep her from going public and filing suit after she was fired.

FBI agents have reportedly contacted members of Mahoney's staff and Tuesday sought legal files surrounding the secret settlement, according to current and former Mahoney Congressional and campaign staff workers.

A spokesperson for the FBI said she had been instructed to say "no comment" to press inquiries.

It would be unusual but not unprecedented for the FBI to open an investigation into a member of Congress three weeks before the election.

Yesterday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi called for an "immediate and thorough" investigation of Mahoney by the House Ethics Committee.

According to the Mahoney staffers, his secret agreement with the woman, Patricia Allen, began in 2006 when he was campaigning for office, vowing to remove the "ethical cloud" he said had been left over the district by Republican Mark Foley, who resigned after it was revealed he had written lewd internet instant messages to Congressional pages and teenage boys.

Mahoney today said he took "full responsibility" for his actions but did not admit the affair and took no questions from reporters.

Mahoney's spokesperson did not have an immediate response about the FBI's probe.

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