FBI Probing Florida Rep. Mahoney

Investigators looking at whether hiring mistress was a crime.

ByABC News
December 22, 2008, 2:35 PM

Dec. 30, 2008— -- The FBI has begun questioning witnesses as part of its investigation in whether outgoing Rep. Tim Mahoney (D-Fla.) violated any laws in putting his former mistress on the congressional payroll, sources familiar with the probe tell ABCNews.com.

The sources say that the FBI is focusing whether Mahoney may have made false statements in hiring his then mistress, Patricia Allen, in his congressional office.

Exactly how many people the FBI has questioned is unclear, but agents, based in West Palm Beach, flew to Washington DC earlier this month to question people who have worked with Mahoney. They have also questioned people in Florida, but the probe does not appear to have reached the stage of a grand jury.

An FBI official could not be reached for comment.

Mahoney's attorney declined to comment but the congressman, who admitted to having multiple affairs, has said he did not violate any laws. "My personal behavior has been unacceptable." But, he said, "I haven't violated my oath of office. I haven't broken any laws."

Mahoney's admissions followed reports by ABCNews.com that Mahoney had secretly paid Allen $120,000 in order to stave of a sexual harassment lawsuit she had brought against him. Mahoney also promised Allen a $50,000 a year job for two years at the agency that handles his campaign advertising. ABCNews.com also reported how he also helped another mistress, a county official inside his district, win a grant from FEMA.

Click here to watch Mahoney admit to having affairs.

Following these disclosures, the FBI opened an investigation.

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 former 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."

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."