Friday, July 30, 2010
Hypocritical Family Value Republicans
"State Sen. Preston Smith (mug shot), a Republican candidate for attorney general, had an extramarital affair with a [young] woman whom he hired to work in his Senate office in 2003 and 2004, according to transcripts of Smith’s testimony in his 2009 divorce. The woman, who also worked on his Senate election campaigns, no longer lives in Georgia.
Copies of depositions from the divorce, in which Smith discussed his infidelity, marital acrimony and the couple’s financial problems, have been sent to media outlets in recent days after Smith came in second in the race for Republican attorney general in the July 20 primary. Former Cobb County Commission Chairman Sam Olens came in first. The runoff election is set for Aug. 10.
Smith, 37, and his campaign did not return repeated calls for comment. Late Wednesday night, the campaign sent an e-mail to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution stating, 'my failed marriage was a complicated and incredibly difficult personal situation that I still live with every day. Without a doubt, I fell short in my personal life by getting a divorce, and people have the right to make a moral judgment on that if they chose.' He went on to say he still felt he was the best man to be Georgia's next attorney general.
The woman whom Smith said he had romantic relations with during his marriage and separation, did not return calls for comment. She now lives in Virginia and is married. Another woman with whom Smith said he was also involved during his separation could not be reached. The AJC has decided not to name the women, as they are not public figures.
Atlanta attorney Charles Medlin, who represented Michelle Smith in the divorce, said his client did not want to discuss the divorce, but Medlin talked about the case and depositions taken before it was settled.
Medlin said his client 'was shocked and hurt' when she first discovered the infidelity in 2004, but tried to work on the relationship. Smith’s extramarital relations continued during the separation, according to Smith’s own disposition. Part of that time, he continued to live in the Rome home of his wife and four children.
Smith, an attorney and former head of the Senate Judiciary committee, has run as a family-values, pro-Christian candidate since his first successful run for state senator in 2002. For years, Smith served on the board and the faculty of Summit Ministries, a Colorado-based ministry that supports and promotes Christian outreach programs in schools across the country. The group produces reading material for students including books on the importance of Christian morals. This year, Smith is stressing his conservative political record, but he makes no reference to his family or Christian values in his literature.
The state Ethics in Government Act does not explicitly prohibit sexual contact between superiors and employees. In a revision of the act earlier this year, language was added to prohibit 'sexual harassment,' including when conduct is made 'explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment.' There is no evidence Smith made his staffer’s employment contingent upon their relationship. The state ethics law was changed this year partly in response to a series of scandals at the state house including allegations of infidelity on the part of elected officials. House Speaker Glenn Richardson resigned last fall after his ex-wife told the media he had a long-standing affair with a lobbyist.
State Senate rules do not ban supervisors from dating employees, but the standard of conduct requires senators to conduct all relationships 'in a courteous, professional, and discreet manner.'
The woman with whom Smith was involved was a Berry College student active in Republican politics. She worked on his campaigns and he hired her as a legislative aide, paying her $200 a month in 2003 and 2004, according to legislative fiscal records. In divorce depositions, Smith was questioned about his relations with two women, and acknowledged the relationships were romantic. At one point, Medlin asked about the staffer.
Medlin asked, 'Was she your personal secretary?'
Smith replied, 'I don’t know whoever gave her a title. She was an assistant and did what needed to be done on the campaign and also on the Senate side.'
Asked about when the relationship began, Smith stated, 'It grew over time and it’s hard to put a specific date on the start of it.'
Pressed further, he stated, 'some time in probably 2004.'
Medlin said Smith’s wife discovered the relationship when she arrived as his state senate campaign headquarters one night. She found Smith’s car in the lot, but all the lights were out in the office. She went inside, turned on the lights and discovered Smith and the woman.
'I don’t know what possible campaign work a politician could be doing in the dark,' Medlin said.
Medlin said Michelle Smith still wanted to stay married, in large part for the sake of the couple’s four children.
'The last thing she wanted to do was to be divorced, despite the infidelity,' he said."
When is the "family values" bull, going to pass from view? One of the legacies of Bill Clinton's impeachment issues was to "out" all of these braying hyenas among the evangelicals (Ted Haggard) and politics (Sen. David Vitter, Sen. John Ensign, and Gov. Mark Sanford)
Oh and 'lest you think this is just a problem on the right (it mainly is, because they feature these slogans) Ohio had an Attorney General Mark Dann who single-handedly reversed the temporary Democratic boomlet in that state with sexual misconduct not all that different from Sen. Preston Smith's.
For the most part these clowns are predator pols are lawyers. Nice.