Notorious Southwest Florida politician is planning a comeback

Reporter: Erika Jackson
Published: Updated:
Six-term Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., resigned in Sept. 2006 after allegations surfaced he sent sexually suggestive messages to male teens working as congressional pages. When first confronted about the messages, Foley denied any wrongdoing. (Credit: AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson)

A notorious Southwest Florida politician, who resigned in disgrace, might make another run for office.

Mark Foley, a former Charlotte County congressperson, left a scar on his reputation after stepping down from office in 2006. Foley also left behind about $1.7 million in unused campaign money.

The Federal Election Commission lets former candidates donate extra funds to non-profits or return the contributions to donors – as long as the candidate does not personally benefit.

“It’s a pretty broad definition of how it can be used,” said Peter Bergerson, a Florida Gulf Coast University political science professor.

Public documents show Foley spent some of that money on a new Apple computer, travel to a Grand Old Party, or GOP, debate and payments to Palm Beach based organizations.

The FEC sent a letter asking why his campaign account is active 13 years later, which garnered the response that he is considering running for office.

Foley was never charged for sending sexual messages to teenage boys. While he apologized in 2006, saying he should have acted more responsibly as an adult and congressman.

“He will have to answer the questions involving the reason he resigned from Congress and the lewd emails,” Bergerson said.

Foley did not respond to our request for comment.

Now, it is up to voters whether they want Foley back in office as long as they can look beyond his scandal and spending.

“In my mind,” Bergerson said, “it would be a significant challenge to win the trust of the voters.”

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