By Paul Kane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 9, 2008
Rep. Vito Fossella (R-N.Y.) yesterday admitted to a long-running extramarital affair with a retired Air Force officer and said he has a 3-year-old daughter with her.
Fossella's admission came a week after he was arrested for drunken driving on his way to the woman's Alexandria home after a night out in the District.
The lawmaker, who did not say whether he would seek reelection in November, issued a four-sentence statement in response to allegations in New York tabloids about the incident and the relationship.
"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," Fossella said in the statement. "While I understand that there will be many questions, including those about my political future, making any political decisions right now [is] furthest from my mind."
Fossella, a six-term Republican who represents Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn, has a wife with whom he has three young children.
Democrats had been eyeing Fossella's seat as one they could take from Republicans in 2008, after a poorly financed opponent trimmed Fossella's usually healthy victory margin in 2006. Now they believe the race may present an even better opportunity, especially if Fossella is still the nominee in the fall.
House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), who has helped usher other scandal-ridden members of his caucus into retirement during the past year, encouraged Fossella to spend the weekend with his family considering his political future.
"I think Mr. Fossella is going to have some decisions to make over the weekend, and I would hope and frankly expect that this is a decision between he, his family and his constituents," Boehner told reporters.
Fossella, 43, was arrested at 12:15 a.m. on May 1 in Alexandria, not far from the home of Fay, a former lieutenant colonel in the Air Force who served as the service's liaison to the House earlier this decade. In his statement, Fossella did not say when he and Fay began their relationship. Fay was divorced from her husband in 2005, according to court records.
An attempt to reach Fay for comment was unsuccessful.
After attending a Rose Garden celebration of the New York Giants' NFL championship on the afternoon of April 30, Fossella returned to the House for votes, which concluded before 7 p.m.
The New York Daily News reported that he and a friend left the Logan Tavern on 14th Street NW later that night, before his arrest. Court records show that Fossella had a blood-alcohol level of 0.17, twice the legal limit in Virginia, when he was pulled over, and was too drunk to recite the alphabet from the letters "D" through "T." He faces possible jail time if convicted.
Since his arrest, Fossella has sporadically appeared in the House, missing all votes last Thursday and Monday, then attending many votes on the floor the rest of this week.