West Palm Beach Congressman Tim Mahoney (D-FL), whose predecessor resigned in the wake of a sex scandal, agreed to a $121,000 payment to a former mistress who worked on his staff and was threatening to sue him, according to current and former members of his staff who have been briefed on the settlement, which involved Mahoney and his campaign committee.
Mahoney, who is married, also promised the woman, Patricia Allen, a $50,000 a year job for two years at the agency that handles his campaign advertising, the staffers said.
A Mahoney spokesperson would not answer questions about the alleged affair or the settlement, but said Allen resigned of her own accord and "has not received any special payment from campaign funds."
Senior Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives, including Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL), the chair of the Democratic Caucus, have been working with Mahoney to keep the matter from hurting his re-election campaign, the Mahoney staffers said.
A spokesperson for Emanuel denies that account, but said Emanuel did confront Mahoney "upon hearing a rumor" about an affair in 2007 and "told him he was in public life and had a responsibility to act accordingly." The spokesperson added that it was a "private conversation" that had nothing to do with Mahoney's re-election prospects.
Emanuel's spokesperson said Emanual had not had any further contacts with Mahoney on the subject and did not know the woman involved worked on Mahoney's Congressional staff until informed by ABC News.
Mahoney was elected two years ago following the abrupt resignation of his disgraced predecessor, Republican Mark Foley, whose lewd internet messages to teenage boys and Congressional pages created a national outrage.
The affair between Mahoney and Allen began, according to the current and former staffers, in 2006 when Mahoney was campaigning for Congress against Foley, promising "a world that is safer, more moral."
Broken Campaign Promises?
At the time, Mahoney's campaign ads featured a picture of him with his wife, Terry, with the line, "Restoring America's Values Begins at Home."
The staffers say Mahoney first met Allen at a campaign stop and later arranged for her to work as a volunteer on the campaign. Allen also appeared in a Mahoney campaign television commercial, criticizing his opponent.