Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Interview with Mark Foley

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If you thought that former Congressman Mark Foley was going to disappear from the political landscape forever, think again. Foley is still popular and loved by many of his friends and supporters in his former Congressional District as well as throughout Palm Beach. Case in point– last Tuesday, following a fundraiser at the West Palm Beach hot spot Pistache, talk show heavyweight and lovable little fuzz-ball himself Rush ‘El Rushbo” Limbaugh identified Mark sitting down at a table, walked up to him and bellowed out, “Mark Foley, how the hell are ya!,” before embracing Foley in a warm bear hug. Mark was then so kind as to introduce me to Rush-the person that I admire the most and credit for getting me as involved in politics as I am.

Foley discussed politics and current events with several stalwarts of the conservative movement, and other patrons came up to Mark and praised him for his work in Congress. Many were encouraging Mark to get back in the game, and numerous other well wishers also greeted him with a genuine warmth that is usually reserved for the home town hero. While Foley admits his mistakes of the past, there is no question that his 30 plus years of dedication to his constituents takes precedence over the controversies that drove him from office. I know first-hand that many other campaigns have solicited his opinions and advice. He was a top fundraiser and had incredible political instincts, having won elections to the Lake Worth city commission, State House, State Senate, and then onto Congress to join the Republican revolution of the class of 1994 that brought Republicans to power for the first time since 1954. Read the rest of the interview with CRA.

JM: Your 2006 Congressional sex scandal has been well documented. It seemed to me that in the reporting, a lot was left out. I am a firm believer that there are two sides to every story. One thing that I have heard from your constituents, is that you didn’t put up much of a fight when the scandal broke. What is your side?

Foley: I am solely responsible for the problems I faced in 2006. I took responsibility, I resigned from the job I loved and a career I had built for 30 years. I did not break any laws; however I owed my constituents, my colleagues, and my family a far better standard then I set. I was not going to drag them thru any further humiliation by attempting to hold on to my job and fight the allegations in the media. I am grateful to the support I have received throughout these last 3 years and to having the joys of knowing real friends and supporters.

JM: It’s been several years now since the scandal, what have you been up to?

Foley: I have been working on numerous business deals- in banking, telecommunications, real estate, and some consulting work. I have enjoyed the time outside the spotlight, focusing on the future, and the communities in which I have lived for 52 years.

JM: Lately, have you been closely following politics?

Foley: Politics is in my blood…. maybe I need a transfusion…but I enjoy the vigorous debate taking place both locally and on the national stage. I am heartened to see the town hall meetings brimming with citizens who are determined to have their opinions counted in the wide-ranging topics from health care, cap and trade, budget deficits. For far too long people have depended on politicians for answers, and now we are reclaiming our democracy and demanding elected officials be held accountable.

JM: Recent polls have shown that Americans, as a whole, consider themselves as Conservatives. Do you agree with this?

Foley: I believe most people are conservative, especially as it relates to their property, values, and what they see as the future for their families. The disconnect occurs when we allow politicians to treat the national treasury as other people’s money. IT IS OUR money and that is finally sinking in to the national psyche. We can’t spend our way to prosperity and we must start treating government spending as we would our own checkbook.

JM: History has shown us that compromising our principles translates into defeat. Just look back to last year when the party backed a losing cause in the moderate, so called ‘maverick,” John McCain as its presidential candidate. Do you feel that promoting Conservatives principles and ideas are the key to victory in upcoming elections?

Foley: People want to support a cause and an alternative to the status quo; it doesn’t help trying to be a me-too party…trying to be everything to everybody. Independents have long supported our values on gun owner’s rights, property rights, lower taxes and a strong national defense. We lost our way in the last few years when we controlled Congress by spending with reckless abandon in order to insure our continued control of government. We lost our zeal for reform and for fiscal sanity in order to be popular. This is not a popularity contest…tough decisions have to be made or there will be nothing left as a legacy of this great country.

JM: Considering your popularity and extensive support have you thought about getting back into politics? If yes, at what capacity would you get involved and have you thought of running for office again?


Foley: I doubt I will reenter the political arena as an office seeker, but I will use my experience and my voice to help others, to rally for economic sanity, to bring about real reforms on a local, State and even national level. I am always available and have been helping those that offer hope any suggestions I can to insure we have new voices and new enthusiasm for the important jobs of elected officials.

JM: My friend Sid Dinerstein, the Palm Beach GOP ‘Poobah’, has done a great job in promoting the party throughout the county. Are you involved in the local party?

Foley: We are very fortunate in South Florida to have strong County Party operations despite the numerical disadvantage we face in registration, I have always believed that the grass roots efforts of our party are the reasons we won strong victories in Tallahassee and in the 1994 Congressional victories. We are starting to see a dramatic shift in attitudes around the country starting with the Governors election in Virginia, New Jersey and possibly New York with strong republican candidates that if their momentum continues it could be a bellwether for the very important mid-term elections in 2010.

JM: How do you feel about Sarah Palin?

Foley: I like Sarah Palin, she is enormously talented and seriously maligned by the talking heads and the national media. She is refreshing, opinionated and honest. I think she has great potential to help reshape our party and our message. No matter whom McCain selected we were likely to have the same outcome that transpired on November 2008. But the party needed to suffer the defeats that we did in order to change complacency to a renewed sense of urgency in the direction of our country. With the Town Hall meetings, The Tea Party events, and average Americans returning to political involvement, this may be the best time for a new generation of republicans to emerge on stage to lead the party out of the wilderness to a promising new future.

JM: Who do you think are the up and coming superstars of the Republican Party?

Foley: There are many up and comers and current leaders of The party that deserve mention…Jeff Atwater, Mike Haridopolous, Adam Putnam, Paula Dockery, Tom Rooney to name a few…People who have seasoned leadership and a political spine to tackle the tough issues without trying to conduct field polls for every decision.

JM: How do you feel about offshore oil drilling?

Foley: I opposed Off Shore oil drilling during most of my career due to concerns for the environment, but when gas hit record highs and we continue to see unrest in the Middle East, Venezuela, and other global hot spots, we cannot continue to be held hostage to the vagaries of political dictators for the economic realities of oil. WE need to be self-reliant, eliminate the threats of embargoes and get our noses out of global oil politics.

JM: Many Washington, D.C., and around the country, have touted Governor Charlie Crist, the self-proclaimed ‘Moderate”, as being one of the top Republicans in the nation. Considering his recent moves of pandering to the left (Endorsing Obama spending bill, increasing taxes, supporting amnesty for illegal aliens), do you feel the same way about Governor Crist?

Foley: I have enjoyed working with Charlie Crist since we were both elected to the Florida senate in 1992, we were the two new Senators elected that changed the electoral landscape bringing Republicans into the majority of the Senate chambers for the first time since reconstruction. And have admired his rise to the Governorship of this great state. He is talented and a force in Florida politics. I have also known Marco Rubio since his first days in the Florida legislature; he is bright, energetic, conservative and articulate. If anyone thinks this election for US Senate is over, then they better pay attention. We are in a very unique time in America’s political life…. There are no sure bets in politics, and money alone is not the key barometer to electability, just ask Democratic moneybags, and key Clinton Confidant Terry McAuliffe who ran and lost the democratic primary in Virginia for Governor.

On Tuesday September 22, Mark Foley will be giving his take on politics as usual in Washington as makes his debut as a talk show radio host at 6pm on www.seaviewam960.com This show will be a must listen event!

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Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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