Foley's gay rumor spread by press secretary

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com June 26 2003 12:00 AM ET

During a surprising telephone press conference on May 22, U.S. representative Mark Foley charged his Democratic opponents with spreading a rumor that he is gay in an attempt to destroy his bid for the U.S. Senate. But fellow Republican representative Clay Shaw's press secretary has turned out to be the leading culprit. Shortly after an article that outlined her role in spreading the allegations about Foley was published in Roll Call, a newspaper that covers Capitol Hill, Wendy Rosen admitted on Monday that she helped circulate the story.

According to a report in the Orlando Sentinel, Rosen sent an E-mail on May 8 to seven members of Shaw's staff and one former staffer that included an article published in the Broward and Palm Beach counties edition of the alternative weekly newspaper New Times that same day. The article stated that Foley is gay. Rosen said distributing articles that appear in South Florida newspapers to the staff is part of her job and that Shaw expects to be kept abreast of all issues involving Congress that appear in the news media in his district. She blamed the widespread distribution of the E-mail on someone who received it from her and sent it outside the office, "where it took on a life of its own." She said she does not know who that was. Eric Eikenberg, Shaw's chief of staff, has said he was disappointed Rosen had sent the E-mail and that "she's been talked to."