Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Made-for-TV Political Scandal Right Here in Delaware

It's been a hot topic of summertime gossip that former Tom DeLay crony and Jack Abramoff bagman Michael Scanlon spent his summers as a lifeguard in Rehoboth Beach. Back in May, the News Journal published this lengthy piece by Cris Barrish on the eyebrows raised when this boyish lifeguard started paying cash for pricey beach properties:
Anthony Wiles became suspicious four years ago when a lifeguard named Michael Scanlon offered to pay cash for Wiles' $4.8 million home in Dewey Beach.
Wiles insisted that the baby-faced 31-year-old prove he could afford the 7,000-square-foot oceanfront compound built in the 1940s by philanthropist Alexis Felix du Pont Sr.
So Scanlon produced a bank statement showing he had "around $10 million," Wiles recalled.
He wasn't the only one who wondered at Scanlon's good fortune:
John Hughes, former Rehoboth mayor and now Delaware's environmental protection chief, said that when he dined at Big Fish, he often saw Scanlon, who usually sported a baseball cap.
"I was amazed that such a young guy who looked like a skateboard rat had so much money," recalled Hughes, a close friend of McMahon's parents. "I've spent a lifetime trying to pay for my house and this guy had made a great fortune in a short time."
He didn't make it by saving up his summer earnings:
In contrast to his jet-setting Beltway lifestyle, Scanlon spent his summers in the sand. He worked as a full-time lifeguard from 2002 through 2005, manning a stand six days a week from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Last year he earned $11.35 an hour, for a total of $5,126.
Barrish details Scanlon's rapidly growing real estate portfolio. But it's the personal backstory reported by Justin Rood at TPM Muckraker that may catapult this story into a made-for-TV movie:
In 2002, Scanlon was engaged to Emily Miller, a press secretary for DeLay. But at Rehoboth's Big Fish Grill, another woman caught his eye: 24-year-old waitress Brandy McMahon.
So a heavyweight lobbyist dumps his politically-connected fiance for a waitress named Brandy? You can't make this up.
But wait, there's more. This jilted fiance may have had a role in breaking the Abramoff scandal:
Details are sketchy, but the upshot is this: Scanlon called off his wedding to Miller and began dating McMahon. Miller, feeling jilted, got together with Scanlon's first wife, Carrie Anne, and compared notes. Where did his money come from? How could he afford multi-million-dollar homes, a private jet? They began asking questions and piecing the story together for themselves. From there, word leaked out -- no one's said exactly how -- and in early 2004, Abramoff's (and Scanlon's) misdeeds landed in the Washington Post.
And here's the front page Post article from February 22, 2004 that broke the Abramoff story:
A powerful Washington lobbyist and a former aide to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) persuaded four newly wealthy Indian gaming tribes to pay their firms more than $45 million over the past three years for lobbying and public affairs work, a sum that rivals spending to influence public policy by some of the nation's biggest corporate interests.
Touting his ties to conservatives in Congress and the White House, lobbyist Jack Abramoff persuaded the tribes to hire him and public relations executive Michael Scanlon to block powerful forces both at home and in Washington who have designs on their money, according to tribe members.

This wouldn't be the first story Cris Barrish has covered that made it to made-for-TV. He covered the Tom Capano story for the News Journal with considerable tenacity, and published a book on the case, titled Fatal Embrace. Cris, call your publisher.
Photo: Justin Rood, TPM Muckraker

6 Comments:

Blogger Paul Smith Jr. said...

So a heavyweight lobbyist dumps his politically-connected fiance for a waitress named Brandy?

I think that's explained by this: "24-year-old". I assume it's safe to say that with his new found money, he wasn't looking for something lasting. (Not to disparage her virtue; Brandy may have fallen for some lines and thought he was serious.)

But, then again, I'm a cynic.

8:56 PM, July 25, 2006  
Blogger FirstState said...

They're currently married, fellas.

6:51 AM, July 26, 2006  
Blogger jason said...

Brandy, you're a fine girl..

what a good wife you would be,

But my life, my love and my lady is the Sea!!!!!

9:17 AM, July 26, 2006  
Blogger jason said...

Tom,

Are you going to give today's activisim a plug?

9:19 AM, July 26, 2006  
Blogger Paul Smith Jr. said...

Well, as I said, I'm a cynic.

And cynics are sometimes wrong.

But usually not.

12:36 PM, July 26, 2006  
Blogger ericwa said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:02 PM, April 23, 2009  

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