In the wake of the Mark Foley-congressional page scandal, my memory was jogged about my own unusual encounter with the South Florida lawmaker.
Sometime in 2001 or 2002, I was a volunteer with the Clearwater Jazz Holiday, running the annual festival and booking the acts. We wanted to land Chick Corea, and the Church of Scientology was helping to hook us up with him.
He was playing a gig in Hollywood, so I flew out to LA with another Jazz Holiday official to speak with him about playing our festival. We stayed at Scientology's Celebrity Centre in Hollywood the same weekend as the church's annual celebrity celebration, in which all of Scientology's famous members are present. There that night were Beck, Giovanni Ribisi, Doug E. Fresh, Mark Isham, Danny Masterson and Erika Christensen, among others.
Milling in the crowd before the gala began, however, I literally ran into Congressman Foley, who I recognized from some political consulting I had done down in West Palm Beach. I didn't get a chance to chat with him or ask what he was doing there before being swept away in a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd.
One thing I can say: He was not escorted by a teenage boy.
A few years later, some Clearwater Scientologists hosted a meet-and-greet event for Foley at the church's Fort Harrison Hotel as Foley was actively considering a run for the U.S. Senate seat eventually won by Mel Martinez. Rumors of homosexuality (published in a Broward-Palm Beach New Times story that year) apparently forced him from that race, although he cited family illness when he dropped out of the campaign in Sept. 2003.
The blogosphere is now abuzz with speculation that the former congressman might be undergoing some sort of Scientology rehab, since the fax he sent about his alcohol rehab came from a Clearwater telephone number and Foley has a long history of friendliness with Scientology, as first revealed on CLs Blurbex.com. TPM Muckraker and Wonkette followed on Monday and Tuedsay, with links to the original item.
Read more about Foley on blurbex.com.