Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Barney Frank Turns 70; It Was All Different In 1989

Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts turns 70 years old today.  I don't agree with many of his policy positions, but I do find him witty and entertaining on television, and more moderate and pragmatic some key issues than I might have expected.

That being said, every time I see Rep.  Barney Frank on TV today, I think back to the scandal that almost tanked his nascent political career back in 1989, when he was just a junior congressman in his late-40s. In August of that year, the Washington Times and the Washington Post broke the story that a male prostitute named Stephen Gobie had been running a prostitution service out of Frank's Capitol Hill apartment. Frank had met Gobie initially in 1985, when Frank was 45 and Gobie was 28, through a classified ad placed by Gobie.  Frank paid Gobie for his services that night, but later they came to live together and Frank hired him as his personal "aide, housekeeper and driver." Frank insisted at the time the scandal broke that he had kicked Gobie out of his apartment as soon as he learned from his landlord of Gobie's ongoing prostitution. Gobie, who was seeking a book deal at the time, asserted vehemently that Frank knew what he was doing all along.   

Frank survived the scandal, if narrowly. The House Ethics Committee later cleared Frank of any wrongdoing and today he's one of the most senior politicians on Capitol Hill and is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.   How things might have been very different. 

I can't let his 70th birthday pass today without quoting a couple of passages from the original Washington Post article written at the time the scandal broke, which you can read HERE:

  • "Frank, a leading House liberal, likened himself to Henry Higgins, who in 'Pygmalion' tries to transform a cockney waif into a member of English society."
  • "Gobie says he attended a bill-signing at the White House, and helped coach and played left field for Frank's team in the Congressional Softball League. 'I was the star player,' Gobie said."

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