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:

Commentary November 17, 2015, 6:41 pm

Shaky Foundations

The Clintons’ so-called charitable enterprise has served as a vehicle to launder money and to enrich family friends.

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

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

May 2016

Unhackable

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

American Imperium

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Fighting Chance

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Front Runner

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Habits of Highly Cynical People

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
Elisabeth Zerofsky on Marine Le Pen, Paul Wachter on the quest for an unhackable email, Rebecca Solnit on cynical people, Andrew J. Bacevich on truth and fiction in the age of war, Samuel James photographs E.P.L. soccer, a story by Vince Passaro, and more

I sat in a taxi with Emma and her son, Stak, all three bodies muscled into the rear seat, and the boy checked the driver’s I.D. and immediately began to speak to the man in an unrecognizable language.

I conferred quietly with Emma, who said he was studying Pashto, privately, in his spare time. Afghani, she said, to enlighten me further.

Illustration by Taylor Callery
Article
Front Runner·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"The F.N. asked to be sent to an institution whose legitimacy it did not accept, and French voters rewarded the party with first place in the election."
Illustration (detail) by Matthew Richardson
Memoir
I Am Your Conscious, I Am Love·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

A paean 2 Prince
"And one thinks, Looking into Prince's eyes must be like looking at the world."
Photo ©© PeterTea
Article
Stop Hillary!·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"As wacky as it sometimes appears on the surface, American politics has an amazing stability and continuity about it."
Article
Plexiglass·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I sat in a taxi with Emma and her son, Stak, all three bodies muscled into the rear seat, and the boy checked the driver’s I.D. and immediately began to speak to the man in an unrecognizable language.

I conferred quietly with Emma, who said he was studying Pashto, privately, in his spare time. Afghani, she said, to enlighten me further.

Photograph (detail) by Karine Laval

Age at death last March of the sturgeon Nikita, Khrushchev’s gift to Norway, after an accidental immersion in salt water:

38

There were new reports of cannibalism in North Korea.

The Finnish postal service announced it will begin mowing lawns on Tuesdays.

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

HARPER’S FINEST

Mississippi Drift

By

Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'

Subscribe Today