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Brian Mast says ‘no thanks’ to Mark Foley’s money

The still-up-and-functioning campaign fund of disgraced former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley sent a $2,000 check last month to the  re-election campaign of U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, but Mast’s campaign refused to cash it.

Friends of Mark Foley For Congress dates back to before Foley, of West Palm Beach, resigned in 2006 under allegations that he’d sent sexually-explicit text messages to teenage boys serving as House pages. That committee’s latest campaign finance reports, posted by the Federal Election Commission,  shows that it still has more than $1 million left on hand, and that among numerous checks it mailed out earlier this year, it sent a $2,000 check to Mast’s campaign on March 27.

Mast’s campaign finance reports do not show the donation. A spokesman said Mast’s campaign did not and will not accept Foley’s money, adding that Mast has been outspoken in his calls for stronger workplace protections against sexual misconduct.

Mast is running for re-election in Florida’s 18th Congressional District, stretching from north Palm Beach County through the Treasure Coast. Democrats Lauren Baer and Pam Keith and Republicans Dave Cummings and Mark Freeman all are seeking a shot at him. Until his 2006 resignation, Foley had represented much of the same area, but back when it was part of Florida’s 16th Congressional District, before redistricting.

Mast’s campaign also noted that Mast has been opposed to the use of taxpayer dollars to settle harassment or discrimination cases. To illustrate the point, the campaign provided a copy of a check it sent to SafeSpace, a shelter non-profit for victims of domestic violence in Stuart. That check has a notation on it indicating it is a redistribution of $2,000 the campaign had received from then-U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan. He was the Pennsylvania Republican who fell from grace and office this year amidst reports that he’d used tax money to settle a sexual harassment claim.

Mast’s is not the only campaign that had Foley money sent its way this year. Friends of Mark Foley For Congress also sent checks to various Republican groups and at least seven other campaigns, mostly local in the Palm Beach area, but including the congressional campaign of Republican Paul Spain, who is running against Democratic U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch in the neighboring Florida’s 22nd Congressional District. Spain’s committee cashed Foley’s $1,000 check, according to FEC records.

Mast’s committee also noted that he believes that after a candidate is no longer pursuing public office, the money remaining in the campaign account should be distributed back to the community, “rather than kept by the politician.”

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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