Is Rudy Losing his Touch?

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As I mentioned earlier today, Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani has a special talent for appointing people to key positions just before they are exposed in career-ending personal transgressions or major acts of criminal conduct, or both.

But don’t count John McCain out of this race.

Only today, Florida state Representative Bob Allen (R), who is co-chairman of McCain’s Florida campaign, was arrested in a Titusville park restroom on charges of solicitation after he approached a plain clothes police officer and offered to perform oral sex on the officer for $20.

It’s conceiveable to me that with the recent news of McCain’s flagging campaign this is actually an attempt on the part of the Arizona senator to up the ante on Giuliani. As you know it was only Monday night when Giuliani Southern regional campaign chair, Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) admitted to soliciting prostitutes.

In this case, McCain’s campaign is going beyond having a prominent supporter solicit prostitutes to actually having one who appears to be a prostitute, if perhaps only on a freelance basis.

This is a tit for tat that doesn’t seem likely to settle down soon. So let us know if you see any more breaking news.

Late Update: TPM Reader JP notes, perhaps not surprisingly, that the Rainbow Democratic Club, a Dem gay rights group in Central Florida gave Allen its “worst of the worst” rating for his votes on gay issues.

Late in More Ways Than One Update: Okay, it seems like McCain’s hat trick may be in some jeopardy. A number of TPM Readers wrote in questioning whether Allen was the payor or the payee. Indeed, when I first saw the articles I thought that it was Allen who was paying $20 for a blowjob. And my first thought was, “‘Wow, they’re not kidding about cutting budgets in the McCain campaign!” But when I looked closer it seemed that it was the other way around.

For instance, the lede in the Orlando Sentinel reads “State Rep. Bob Allen was arrested Wednesday afternoon at a local park after offering to perform a sex act on an undercover officer in exchange for $20, police said.” Now, the logical reading of that sentence to me is that he offered to perform the act in exchange for the money. Otherwise you’d say that he offered $20 to be able to … etc. The Tallahassee Democrat says that “he solicited an undercover male officer inside the restroom, offering to perform oral sex for $20.” Again, to me ‘offering’ sounds to me like he’s offering sex for money. Meanwhile, the AP says that “State Rep. Bob Allen was arrested Wednesday after offering to perform oral sex for $20 on an undercover male police officer.”

But TPM Reader HM was convinced the money was to pass in the other direction. And he finally came up with this video report from WFTV in Orlando. And the report seems to say clearly that Allen “offered [the police officer] $20 for a sexual act”. So at this point it seems I was led down the garden path by some ambiguously worded wire reports.

In the broader picture, I don’t think there’s any denying that this puts Rudy back on top in the GOP campaign ‘john’ battle. As for Rep. Allen (R) he insists that the incident was a “very big misunderstanding” and told reporters ”I’m not in anyway associated with that they are saying, this is disgusting,” as he was escorted out of the Titusville police station to be transported to Brevard County Jail. And the evidence would seem to bear him out, seeing as only months ago he introduced this bill in the state legislature to crack down on “lewd & lascivious offenses.” His state House bio, which lists his ‘recreational interest’ as ‘water sports‘ might seem to point in the opposite direction. But presumably these phrases can have more than one meaning.

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