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Vito Agonistes

fosella1.thumbnail.jpegRep. Vito Fossella (R-NY) is probably nostalgic for last Friday when the worst thing he and his campaign had to deal with was his arrest for driving very, very drunk.

Now they have to deal with this:

The full text of Mr. Fossella’s four-sentence statement follows:

I have had a relationship with Laura Fay, with whom I have a three-year-old daughter. My personal failings and imperfections have caused enormous pain to the people I love and I am truly sorry. While I understand that there will be many questions, including those about my political future, making any political decisions right now are furthest from my mind. Over the coming weeks and months, I will to continue to do my job and I will work hard to heal the deep wounds I have caused.

Let’s retrace the route a bit:

Fossella was arrested in Alexandria at about 12:15 a.m. Thursday after a wild night on the town that included dinner with about two dozen Staten Island friends and a stop at about 10 p.m. with a friend at the trendy Logan Tavern.

A worker at the bar deemed the two men too drunk to drive and hailed a cab for them, but it’s unclear if Fossella took the ride from the pub.

Fossella later was pulled over by police after running a red light. His blood alcohol level was .17, court papers said, more than double the Virginia legal limit of .08.

In an arrest report obtained by the Daily News, cops said the congressman’s mouth was stained red from the wine he drank.

The Saturday follow-up story had a creepy detail in it:

A police report in Alexandria, Va., a suburb of Washington, said that Mr. Fossella ran a red light on Thursday just after midnight and had a “strong smell of alcoholic beverage” when he was pulled over. According to the report, Mr. Fossella told the officer that he was on his way to pick up his daughter, who needed to go to the hospital, although on Friday he said that he had been on his way to visit friends.

Specifically, as it turned out, this friend:

amd_laurafay.jpgThis is the first look at the mystery woman whom Rep. Vito Fossella (R-S.I.) called for help after he was charged with drunken driving in Virginia.

Laura Fay, wearing sunglasses and dressed in jogging clothes, refused to comment when she was approached over the weekend. Fay is a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and marathon runner.

Public records show the divorcee owns a townhouse in Alexandria, Va. She also reportedly has a 3-year-old daughter. Fossella aides continued to describe the two only as good friends.

Fay picked up Fossella last Thursday morning, seven hours after he was arrested for running a red light 3 miles away from her townhouse.

Critics in his own party wondered whey he called Fay instead of his chief of staff, who also lives in Alexandria.

The Republican, facing reelection in November, had a blood-alcohol level of 0.17 – twice the legal limit, cops said, and hired damage consultant Susan Del Percio with money from his campaign war chest.

I can see why a congressman with a tough election battle and fundraising issues wouldn’t want to discuss that with the press, but still, I thought at the time it was a little odd to drag his kid into it, particularly since his three kids (and his wife) were back home on Staten Island.

That’s because the Times left something out of the Saturday story:

When cops stopped Rep. Vito Fossella for drunken driving, the married congressman said he was rushing to see his sick daughter on nearby Grimm St. – the home of the mystery woman who later plucked him from jail.

Fossella’s spokeswoman has insisted the single mom, Air Force Col. Laura Fay, 45, was only a "good friend," but the Staten Island Republican implied to suburban D.C. cops that Fay’s 3-year-old was his.

"The subject stated that he was driving down from Washington, D.C., to Grimm St. because his daughter was sick and needed to go to the hospital," a police report obtained by the Daily News reveals.

That little detail, which was left out of most of the next-day stories, set off an unbelievable feeding frenzy in the local tabloids, which did a little research into Lt. Col. Fay:

Ms. Fay, whose married name was Laura Shoaf and who met Fossella more than five years ago through her work as a House military liaison, picked up Fossella from jail after he’d been held in custody for about eight hours.

Ms. Del Percio has described Ms. Fay, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, as an "old friend" of the congressman’s, but Fossella himself has not spoken about their relationship.

Neither has Fossella, whom Ms. Del Percio said lives alone in a condominium in downtown Washington when attending House sessions, addressed why he would call Ms. Fay to fetch him from jail when his chief of staff, Thomas Quaadman, lives in Alexandria.

Ms. Fay has not spoken to reporters. Neighbors in her Alexandria complex say she is the mother of a 3-year-old girl.

Ms. Fay and her husband, Guy Shoaf, formally divorced in September 2004, according to papers on file with the Arlington County Circuit Court. They separated on Dec. 26, 2003, citing "disputes and irreconcilable differences," the papers say.

The papers show that the couple had no children when they divorced and that "none are expected."

Fossella’s silence has sparked whispers that the congressman and Ms. Fay are something more than "old friends."

When an Advance reporter asked whether Fossella is the girl’s father, Ms. Del Percio said, "That is a demeaning and highly inappropriate question. It does not deserve an answer."

The NY Post — Rupert Murdoch’s NY Post, which Fossella actually has written for — has tossed him under the express bus, with articles speculating about his wife leaving him over the baby and Lt. Col. Fay frantically trying to cover up paternity (in an article entitled Omerta on Vito ‘Baby Talk’; if you needed more reason to think the man is over, the NY Post using a mafia term to refer to an Italian-American Republican politician from Staten Island is pretty much the fork test). The Daily News ups the ante with Let’s play ‘Is Vito Fossella wearing his wedding ring today? and this Republican handwashing exercise:

Fay was using her married name, Shoaf, in late July 2003 when she took charge of arranging a trip to Europe for a delegation led by then-House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) to meet with war allies.

When the congressional delegation made stops in Britain, Denmark, the Netherlands and Spain, Shoaf and Fossella often disappeared together, three sources on the trip said.

"She wasn’t around as much as I expected her to be," said one source on the trip. "He wasn’t around much, either."

Fossella and Fay apparently missed a dinner in honor of Hastert thrown by the Welsh first minister on July 27, another source remembered.

Fay’s absences in particular rankled Hastert’s aides, the sources confirmed. Fay was the newly minted chief Air Force liaison officer in the House.

"They wondered why she wasn’t in the hip pocket of the speaker at all times," an official told the Daily News.

A third source on the trip said Fay was at Hastert’s side when she needed to be. The speaker was never wise to the alleged affair, the source added.

All this has reduced supporter and reliable NYS Republican open checkbook Mayor Mike Bloomberg to complete incoherence:

"You see stuff in the paper, I don’t know whether any of it’s true or not," Bloomberg said. "I’ve not talked to Congressman Fossella in a few weeks and certainly I’ve not talked to him about this."

Bloomberg said, "in terms of anything else that’s his personal life or his life within, with the courts he’s got to deal with the charge in Virginia and then I have no idea what’s in store for him in his career or what he wants to do, what his aspirations are or anything else."

New York politics are just fascinating, don’t you find?

Oh, I know you figured (it’s such a cliché at this point), but just to dot the i: Fossella was a big impeachment fan.

And in the case before us today, we’re asking a simple question: "Did the president of the United States violate any of those rules of law that we cherish and that so many men and women have died for and are willing to die for at every point around the globe?"

I don’t want to be here today, like so many of my colleagues. But the generations of Americans yet unborn must look back on this day in this matter, in this situation, and see this as our finest hour.

But remember, Vito doesn’t have time to think about whether he’s fit to stay in office. He’s a busy man.


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Middle-aged (thank god); married (oddly enough); native New Yorker; one (thoroughly magnificent, thanks) child, She Who Must Be Obeyed, aka HM (Her Majesty). But a mere lowly end-user by profession, and a former [pretty much everything, at least in somewhat limited first-world terms].

Extravagant (mostly organic) cook, slapdash (completely organic) gardener, brain space originally assigned to names and faces piled up with the overflow from the desperately overcrowded Old Movie and Broadway Trivia section, garage space which was originally assigned to a car piled up with boxes of books.

Dreadful housekeeper, indifferent dresser, takeout menu ninja and the proud owner of a major percentage of the partially finished crafts projects on the east coast of the continental United States.

The handsome gentleman in the picture is Hoa Hakananai'a. He joined the collection of the British Museum in 1868. His name, which is thought to mean "stolen or hidden friend," was given to him by his previous owners when he was collected.