Friday, October 17, 2008

GOP May Target Mahoney Media Firm in Other Districts

By Nathan L. Gonzales

With Rep. Tim Mahoney (D-Fla.) embroiled in an alleged sex scandal, Republicans are putting on the full-court press to broaden the scandal to other districts by implicating House Democratic leadership — and, potentially, Mahoney’s former media firm.

According to the initial ABC News report, Mahoney allegedly promised his mistress a $50,000-a-year job with his media consultant’s firm, Fletcher Rowley Chao Riddle Inc., as part of a package to keep her from going public about their affair.

”This firm is attempting to disassociate itself from its seemingly unethical and potentially illegal behavior because they realize that many of their clients are sitting in targeted districts,” according to one GOP operative, “This is a liability that will undoubtedly be explored."

The Nashville-based FRCR received plenty of good press earlier this year by helping Democrat Travis Childers win the special election in Mississippi’s 1st district. Childers is at limited risk of losing his seat next month, but some of the firm’s other candidates are in much more competitive races.

FRCR works with Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.) who knocked off then-Rep. Richard Pombo (R) in 2006 and faces Dean Andal (R) this cycle, as well as teacher Larry Kissell (D), who is in a rematch with Rep. Robin Hayes (R) in North Carolina’s 8th district. Long-shot challenger Jim Harlan (D) in Louisiana’s 1st is also a client.

Rep. Zack Space (D-Ohio) is another FRCR candidate, but Republicans failed to recruit a good candidate to take him on.

Once the Mahoney story broke, his media firm sought to sever all ties with the Congressman.

“FRCR Inc. has resigned from Tim Mahoney’s campaign and permanently ended our relationship with him,” CEO Bill Fletcher said. “According to ABC News, Tim Mahoney apparently included our company in a secret legal settlement without the knowledge of our firm. 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.”

It may be too little too late to stop Republicans from pressing the issue.

UPDATE: In 2007, McNerney switched to McMahon, Squier, Lapp for media. On Thursday, the NRCC sought to make FRCR an issue against candidates in more districts including Don Cravins Jr. (LA7), Lincoln Davis (TN4), Tom Perriello (VA5), Paul Carmouche (LA4), and Joshua Segall (AL3).

This story first appeared on on October 15, 2008. 2008 © Roll Call Inc. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.