Incumbent Republican Congressman Vito Fossella had a merry-merry dinner with a friend at a bar on a gorgeous May evening last summer; immediately before he decided to get in his car and drive — intoxicated — back to the place he was staying in northern Virginia.
Fossella, who represents all of the New York City borough of Staten Island and some parts of Brooklyn, probably didn’t count on being pulled over by the police. And he probably never imagined the firestorm of personal and political penalties which that simple decision to turn the car-key in the vehicle’s ignition would ignite. But after running a red light; Fossella was arrested and charged that night with Driving While Intoxicated — and has since decided not to seek re-election to his congressional seat as a result of fall-out from the SEX SCANDAL that came to light in the wake of his arrest.
Let me quote from the Associated Press’ account of Fossella’s arrest:
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — When Rep. Vito Fossella was arrested in May, his car smelled of alcohol “and his lips were stained red,” a police officer testified Friday at his drunken-driving trial.
Officer Jamie Gernatt testified in Alexandria General District Court, where Fossella – whose arrest has already snowballed into a political and personal disgrace – will find out if it also could lead to a five-day jail term. The non-jury trial was expected to take a day.
Even if he were convicted Friday, he would not go to jail right away, since a defendant still has the right to appeal such a verdict to a higher court.
Fossella, the lone Republican in Congress from New York City, was arrested just after midnight on May 1 in suburban Virginia. He had spent the previous morning at the White House celebrating the New York Giants’ Super Bowl victory.
Source: Associated Press
In Jamaican parlance, Fossella was “red,” except his lips were literally stained red and his entire
appearance was that of a drunken man. So how does a DWI arrest lead to a personal sex scandal and the decision to not seek re-election to a seat you have held since 1997; and which your party has held for about 35 years?
Again quoting the Associated Press:
Police said the married 43-year-old told them he was headed to see his sick daughter. Given that his wife and children live in New York, that statement set off alarms and eventually led to the revelation he had secretly fathered a daughter, now 3 years old, with a Virginia woman named Laura Fay, a former Air Force officer and congressional liaison.
After admitting the relationship, Fossella announced he would not seek re-election, a drastic fall for a politician once viewed as a potential mayor of New York City. His downfall has also created an opportunity for Democrats to gain a seat in Congress in November.
Source: Associated Press
Did you catch it? Fossella ran a single red light in the middle of the night in a low traffic area, and because he was drunk, he tried to talk his way out of an arrest by explaining that he had to get home to his ‘sick’ daughter. He gets arrested anyway; in a year when every single seat in the House of Representatives is up for grabs again. Intrepid reporters — many from New York — go to Virginia and look at the police report, as well as investigate his claim about having a daughter. This in turn leads to the revelation that Fossella; a ‘family values’ Republican; has a child outside his marriage. And if you read this other story, you discover he’d lied to his mistress — Fossella’s mistress/baby-mother thought he was estranged from his wife so she dumped him in the aftermath of his arrest. The Congressman’s wife in turn is now considering divorce; plus he is out of a job in Congress where his seat was one of the safest there could possibly be. Fossella ran one red light; and all the red lights he’d ran in his personal life came out of the closet to destroy him.
Fossella was convicted of driving drunk on Friday, by the way, and while he is likely to appeal; he is facing a mandatory 5-day jail sentence because his blood-alcohol was more than twice the legal limit if he loses his appeal.
Impartial law enforcement, and intrepid journalism has resulted in the assertion of the rule of law in America. A thousand people who have something to lose — jobs, status, prestige — will look at this and the next time they have one drink too many they’ll splurge on the taxi-cab or call a friend.
But the contrast I want to leave you with is this: this man was being considered as a contender for Mayor of New York. After the Guiliani and Bloomberg mayoral tenures, the business community has grown to love having a Republican Mayor in City Hall; so they’ve been looking around for a bright, rising star they believe could be the next big thing. And if you’re a Republican Mayor of the heavily Democratic New York and you do a decent job, then you can run for President like Guiliani did; and Bloomberg seriously thought about.
So the day before Fossella, a rising star, had met with the President — the most powerful man in the world. The day before Fossella walked through White House security and emptied the contents of his pockets for law enforcement on his way to a fun-filled event with superstar Super Bowl champions and the most powerful man in the world — with whom he happens to be on a first name basis. One day later and Vito Fossella was emptying his pockets yet again, but this time as part of the processing that took plce after his arrest. The transition from being a power-player to being a pariah and a punchline was swift and thorough.
I’m building up to a climax with these posts. It’s part of a series to introduce the Diatribalist Crime Plan (patent-pending.) I’ll never pretend that every American senator and congressman breaking the law is on the way to jail; but they know they’re playing a lottery and playing with fire when they violate the law. They know they have to be very, very careful. So I end verbatim with the conclusion from Part I:
And that’s the point of this case study — to understand that in America the High and Mighty are brought down every day. In this country – no matter how powerful you are, they (law enforcement & prosecutors) will come get you. They will put handcuffs on you and destroy e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g you’ve spent decades diligently building — your reputation, your network, your wealth, your standing, and your lifestyle. Kern Spencer being charged is no real scandal, the real scandal is how few parliamentarians have been held to book by the Jamaican law enforcement apparatus. In America we’ve had more people who serve in the national legislature go to jail in the last year alone than Jamaica has had in its entire history. And ironically, that is a source of pride.