Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Congressional Sex Scandals

Ambitious Expedience

Mark Foley always knew he wanted to be in politics. He was fond of telling people he planned to be a U.S. Senator by the time he was 50. A community college drop out at 20, Foley opened the Lettuce Patch, a diner in Lake Worth, with the help of his parents. Using the diner as a springboard, he became active in Democratic circles, where his good looks and charm quickly proved to be formidable fundraising tools. He speculated in real estate, served on the board of the First American Bank and Trust and ran with a crowd of young Democrats who called themselves the "Kiddie Car Gang." At the time, many of his acquaintances suspected he was gay, but Foley only went so far as to say to one friend that he was bisexual — but never intended to act on it. After being told by local Democrats in 1984 that he'd have to wait his turn to run for a seat on the county commission, he switched parties to get his career under way.

Newt Gingrich
Newt Gingrich

In 1990 Foley was elected to the Florida House of Representatives, and then the Florida Senate in 1992. The elections of 1994 ushered Foley into the U.S. House of Representatives from Florida's 16th Congressional district; he became a foot soldier in Newt Gingrich's Republican Revolution. Foley proved extremely popular with his constituents, who sent him back to Congress over the next ten years by margins as large as 79 percent.

He made a reputation for himself in the House as a crusader against child predators. Seeking to outlaw web sites that post suggestive images of children, he wrote the "Child Modeling Exploitation Prevention Act of 2002." He said at the time that such sites were "nothing more than a fix for pedophiles." Due to difficulties in managing the effects the bill would have on legitimate child performers the legislation never became law. A co-creator of the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus, Foley helped write the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which became law in July 2006. Two months later, his text messages became public.

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