Before Rep. Michael Grimm’s alleged misconduct put him on the wrong side of a 20-count indictment this week, former Rep. Vito Fossella was humiliated by his own scandal in the very same congressional district, which covers Staten Island and other parts of New York City.
Exactly six years ago Thursday, Fossella was arrested and charged with drunken driving in suburban Virginia; 10 days later, he admitted that the woman who picked him up when he was released from jail was the mother of his child in an extramarital affair.
“I have had a relationship with Laura Fay, with whom I have a 3-year-old daughter,” Fossella said in a prepared statement on May 10, 2008. “My personal failings and imperfections have caused enormous pain to the people I love and I am truly sorry.”
Ten days after that revelation, Fossella announced he would retire in January 2009 after 11 years in the House, ending an otherwise untarnished career as the successor to Republican Reps. Susan Molinari and her father, Guy Molinari, who had represented Staten Island since 1981.
Fossella was succeeded by Democratic Rep. Michael McMahon, who then lost the seat to Grimm in the Republican wave of 2010. Grimm, a former FBI agent in New York, announced this week that he is determined to seek a third term this fall, despite being hit Monday with a stunning 20-count indictment that charged him with fraud, tax evasion, and other offenses. Grimm says he is innocent.
While the allegations against Grimm could result in significant prison time if he is convicted, Fossella paid his debt to society by serving four days in the Alexandria, Va., Detention Center in April 2009. The jail time was the result of his pleading guilty to drunken driving after his arrest on the night of May 1, 2008.
Even more problematic for the former Catholic high school basketball player and Christian pop musician was the admission of his relationship with Fay, a retired Air Force officer. Apparently Fossella, who was 43 at the time of his arrest, had not told his wife and three children on Staten Island about his second family.
Now 49, Fossella is reportedly still married and works for Park Strategies, a lobbying firm founded by former Republican Sen. Al D’Amato of New York, with offices in New York, Washington, and two other cities. Fossella declined requests for an interview.
Fossella most recently surfaced late last year when he told the Staten Island Advance that some leading Republicans in New York had encouraged him to run against Grimm this year.
“I told them I’m at a good spot in my life and I have no plans to seek public office,” Fossella told the Advance in December. However, he added, “That could change tomorrow or next week.”
“The door is always open,” Fossella said. “If things change down the line, we’ll revisit it. But I can’t say now that I’m ready to do so.”
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Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:
- Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
- Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
- They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
- One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”
At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”