Exactly What Does it Take to Disqualify One from Elected Office?

At what point, exactly, does a person take a look at his or her personal situation and say, “Gee, maybe my actions have made it impossible for me to effectively serve in public office?” There are different circumstances and different levels of offense but generally speaking, it seems you’re ok unless you’re Aaron Hernandez. And even then you have your union filing grievances on your behalf.

Republican Tom Foley—“exploring” a run for governor—may not be disqualified but he certainly isn’t helping his own cause. First, he opens his “exploration” by hurling charges at Gov. Dannel Malloy that he and everyone he’s talked to before and since becoming governor are crooks. He claims to have proof “to a journalistic standard” (all of us who are trained in or have practiced the one-fine craft can collectively groan now) but he won’t divulge said proof.

Foley’s real problem now seems to be some sort of road rage incident from more than 30 years ago. When the issue came up in the 2010 gubernatorial race that Foley lost to Malloy, he downplayed it and it went away. He should know that anything that anyone did in the ‘80s never really goes away. Foley described himself as a sort of Penelope Pitstop in the Compact Pussycat in that unfortunate incident when he may really have been more like Dick Dastardly in the Mean Machine (I don’t have an analogy for Muttley).

Foley’s follies are nothing compared to state Rep. Christina “Girlfight” Ayala who got caught allegedly using one address in Bridgeport from which to vote and another at which to actually live, a practice not as uncommon as one would think. Add on the fact that Ayala’s mother may also face criminal charges for facilitating the fraud and you’d think time’s up for Christina. All of that of course comes after the car accident from which she allegedly fled, the torched car, the girl fight, etc.

We apparently have our answer as to when we say, “when”—at least in New York. Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer got the boot when he tried a comeback running for New York City comptroller. The voters of the Big Apple proved they’re not as whacky as most people think when they similarly turned aside the appropriately named Anthony Weiner when he tried to run for mayor. Then again, a politically astute person I knew recently observed that Weiner’s offense rose “to a whole new level of perv.”