Washington Babylon — November 19, 2007, 11:57 am

“Family Values” Keller Skirts Questions, Smears Messenger

Last week, I repeatedly contacted staffers working for Congressman Ric Keller of Florida, by phone and email, to ask them for comment for a story I was working on. In the e-mails, I asked a number of very specific questions:

  • Had Congressman Keller, who won office in 2000 as a fierce champion of family values and morality, had an affair with a young congressional staffer (whom he later married) while he was wed to his first wife?
  • What were the purposes of several trips Keller took with the staffer when she was on his congressional payroll?
  • Why had Keller used campaign funds to pay the staffer a $1,000 year-end bonus in 2002, just after he’d traveled with her and just prior to separating from his then-wife?
  • Did the Congressman help the staffer get a job at his political fundraising firm?

After waiting three days and getting no reply, I published the story and said that Keller’s office had declined to reply to requests for comment.

Now, though, Keller has responded to two stories by the Orlando Sentinel, which asked him about my account. In one, his staff said my piece was “loaded with fiction.” In another, Keller issued a statement that said, “Regrettably, one out of two marriages in this country end in divorce, and my first marriage didn’t work out . . . Any rumor or innuendo that there’s anything more to it is false and a cheap political stunt.” He called me a “discredited gossip blogger who just last week posted another false rumor accusing Hillary Clinton of having a lesbian affair with one of her staffers” and criticized me for using unnamed sources “with no personal knowledge of the situation” who alleged he’d had an affair. The statement, too, said my piece was “loaded with fiction.”

Yes, I posted two items [1][2] about the rumor that Hillary is having an affair with her staffer. As I wrote, it’s an idiotic, meritless rumor that people in other political camps are seeking to put forth in order to raise doubts about Clinton. But Keller ignored the substance of those articles, deciding to attack and smear the messenger instead of addressing the questions raised.

I didn’t report on Keller’s affair with the staffer on the basis of rumors, but on numerous interviews and by careful review of public records that turned out to square with what I was told. Only after much cautious research did I decide to write this story.

Keller says it’s all fiction, but doesn’t specify what’s false. Did he travel with the staffer? Did he pay her a $1,000 year-end bonus? How did she get the job with the fundraising firm, and what was her role and pay arrangement there? Is she still working at the firm, as was reported on his last financial disclosure report? These issues and others were simply unaddressed in the congressman’s reply.

Share
Single Page

More from Ken Silverstein:

From the November 2013 issue

Dirty South

The foul legacy of Louisiana oil

Perspective October 23, 2013, 8:00 am

On Brining and Dining

How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy

Postcard October 16, 2013, 8:00 am

The Most Cajun Place on Earth

A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits 

Get access to 164 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

May 2015

Black Hat, White Hat

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Beyond the Broken Window

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In Search of a Stolen Fiddle

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Displaced in the D.R.

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Quietest Place in the Universe

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
“Don sucked the last of his drink through his straw and licked his lips. 'The coast, to me, is more interesting than the valley.'”
Photograph by the author
Article
Fred Morton, who died this week in Vienna, at the age of 90, was a longtime contributor to Harper's Magazine and a good friend. "Othello's Son," which was listed as a Notable Essay in Best American Essays 2013, appeared in our September 2013 issue.
Photograph © Alex Gotfryd/CORBIS
Article
Beyond the Broken Window·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“By the time Bratton left the department, in 2009, Los Angeles had quietly become the most spied-on city in America.”
Illustration by Taylor Callery
Article
Displaced in the D.R.·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“How is it possible that my birth certificate is invalid if I was born here?”
Photograph by Pierre Michel Jean
Article
The Quietest Place in the Universe·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Gaitskell and his colleagues are approaching the revelation of a new order, a new universe, in which even light will be known differently, and darkness as well.”
Painting by Sebastiaan Bremer

Number of African countries with vaccination rates higher than that of the United States:

16

Iowa urologists reported that only a minor portion of locker-room teasing arises from “the presence of excess foreskin”; most teasing targets small penises.

A farmer in Surrey, England, was ordered by the Reigate and Banstead Borough Council to tear down his cannon-equipped castle, which he had built secretly and then concealed behind hay bales.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Subways Are for Sleeping

By

“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”

Subscribe Today