FBI looks at Mahoney case

The FBI is investigating whether Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Mahoney broke any laws or misused federal money when he hired a mistress to work in his office, a senior federal law enforcement official told The Associated Press.

Federal agents also are examining whether a second affair Mahoney was having with a high-level official in his Florida district was behind his decision to push for federal emergency funds for her county, the official said.

The person spoke to The Associated Press only on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation. The person noted investigators would likely need both women's help to pursue the matter. The cases would be hard to prove without them.

Mahoney has called for a House Ethics Committee investigation of his own conduct and said he would be cleared of wrongdoing. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also called for an investigation.

The FBI is looking into whether Mahoney hired the first mistress – and put her on the federal payroll – so she wouldn't reveal their affair, the person said.

Mahoney, 52, who is married, began the affair in 2006 while campaigning for Congress.

He won that year while promising to return morals and family values to Washington after Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Foley resigned amid revelations that he sent lurid Internet messages to male teenage pages who had worked on Capitol Hill. Foley was later cleared of criminal wrongdoing.

Mahoney hired the woman to work first for his congressional office, then his campaign. Campaign staff say she was later fired for performance issues, not because of the affair.

The woman then threatened to sue Mahoney for sexual harassment, they say. Mahoney reached a settlement to avoid a public airing, paying her and her attorneys $121,000. Mahoney's campaign staff says Mahoney paid the settlement with his own money, not with campaign funds or federal dollars.

The woman and Mahoney signed a confidentially agreement that prohibits them from discussing details.

The FBI is also looking into whether Mahoney helped Martin County secure a $3.4million reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for hurricane damage in exchange for sex with a county official in 2007, the federal law enforcement official said.

The funds were approved late last year.

The second affair was confirmed by a person close to Mahoney's campaign who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the congressman's private life. Mahoney has not returned calls.

His congressional staff notes that Mahoney lobbies for FEMA funding throughout his district, and that Martin County has received $43 million from FEMA since 2004. Mahoney didn't take office until 2006 and they say he did not show Martin County preferential treatment.

David Graham, the county's administration director, said the county began the effort to get the hurricane funds under Foley, before Mahoney took office. He said it was a three-year team effort, since the county was denied and only received the money on appeal to FEMA with help from Mahoney.

Mahoney is embroiled in a re-election challenge in a district that leans Republican.

Though he has not directly addressed the affair, he said in a statement earlier this week he takes “full responsibility for my actions and the pain I have caused my wife Terry and my daughter Bailey.” He has not addressed the second affair. Associated Press writer Lara Jakes Jordan contributed.