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Sid Dinerstein, Republican Party Chair Gets Nasty, Calls Mahoney a "Slimeball"

REC Chair Sid DinersteinREC Chair Sid Dinerstein

Challenger Mahoney denies he leaked Foley E-mail

By Joel Hood
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
September 30, 2006


Tim Mahoney says he's not a politician. But over the past month this political neophyte has launched an aggressive and what some have called dirty campaign to unseat U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fort Pierce.

The latest accusations mushroomed Friday when Foley abruptly resigned after questions about suggestive e-mails to teens, including a 16-year-old male who is a former congressional page. Foley's campaign claimed Mahoney leaked the six-term incumbent's private e-mails to news media.

Later Friday, Mahoney held a brief news conference in front of his Palm Beach Gardens headquarters to distance himself from the allegations that his staff was behind the leaks. Mahoney, 50, read a short statement but did not answer questions. Members of his staff later declined interviews.

"The challenges facing Congressman Foley make this a difficult time for the people of the 16th District," Mahoney said. "The families of all those involved are in our thoughts and prayers." With Foley out of the race, Mahoney's lone challenger is Port St. Lucie candidate Emmie Ross, who is running unaffiliated with a political party. The state Republican Party, however, could choose a replacement for Foley in the Nov. 7 election.

Mahoney, D-Palm Beach Gardens, is the co-founder and chairman of Finance Inc. in Boca Raton and president of The Center for Innovative Entrepreneurship. He told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel this month that his decision to challenge Foley was largely because of frustration at the Republican leadership in Congress and the White House. From the beginning, Mahoney was critical of Foley's voting record and support of the Bush administration on issues such as the war in Iraq and government spending. Mahoney promised to end what he described as an atmosphere of cronyism and corporate welfare at the highest levels of government.

"People have given up hope because they don't see a correlation between the way they're living and how they're being represented in Washington," Mahoney said. "I think Mark Foley is a great guy, but his perspective is one of a career politician. I'm not a politician."

However, Mahoney and his staff have run a shrewd political campaign. In August, Mahoney filed a defamation lawsuit against Foley's campaign staff for what he said were misleading television ads about his business background.

A week later, Mahoney was on the offensive again, this time in an afternoon news conference in West Palm Beach, accusing Foley of improperly receiving homestead exemptions in Florida and Washington, D.C. According to a 2005 letter provided by Foley's campaign, a Washington tax official said the city incorrectly applied the homestead benefit to Foley and that he had since paid the back taxes caused by the error.

Each time, Foley's backers said the Mahoney campaign was using dirty politics to make a name for the political newcomer.

"He's a slime ball," Sid Dinerstein, the Republican Party chairman of Palm Beach County, said of Mahoney. "Not only will this not be worth a single vote to Mr. Mahoney, but he will be sent packing big time on Election Day. ... Mahoney gets to crawl back under the rock he crawled out of."

The sharp rhetoric continued Thursday after Foley's private e-mails to a 16-year-old page were made public.

"This is nothing more than a political attack and an attempt at the worst kind of character assassination," Foley's campaign spokesman, Jason Kello, wrote in a released statement Thursday.

Mahoney denies he or his staff leaked those e-mails. Instead, his Friday statement looked ahead to a campaign not yet won.

"We have been running a spirited campaign on the issues important to the people of the 16th Congressional District," Mahoney said. "Our work is not complete."

Joel Hood can be reached at jhood@sun-sentinel.com or 561-243-6611.

Copyright (c) 2006, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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