There is only so much a crisis PR pro can do. That’s the lesson learned from the drunk driving arrest of my Congressman Vito Fossella in Virginia a few days ago. [Full disclosure: I have never voted for the five-time elected Fossella, who took over for Susan Molinari.]
The New York tabs had a field day with the arrest of “Vino Vito,” especially when they reported that New York City’s only Republican Congressman turned to a “mystery woman” to bail him out after he was nabbed by cops in the early morning of May 1.
What was Vito thinking? Not even the skilled Fraser Seitel- - though he would give it a gung-ho effort -- could get him out this mess. Yet crisis pro Susan Del Percio dutily stepped up to the plate and told intrigued reporters that the woman, retired Air Force lieutenant colonel Laura Fay, was a “old friend” of Fossella, who reps Staten Island and the slice of Brooklyn that I live in. Right-o. Since when does a married man with three kids, call on another woman in the middle of the night to get him out of the drunk tank? Was it because he was in her neighborhood?
Del Percio was soon reduced to telling a Daily News reporter that she would not answer such a "demeaning and highly inappropriate question.” And what was that untoward question that frazzled the crisis manager? It had to do with whether Vito fathered a “love child” with Fay. Bingo.
Fossella, who faces a mandatory five day jail term if convicted, spilled the beans today. “I have had a relationship with Laura Fay, with whom I have a three-year-old daughter,” he said in a four-paragraph statement. “My personal failings and imperfections have caused enormous pain to the people I love and I am truly sorry.” Those beans should have been spilled last week after Vino sobered up and apologized to his supporters.
Vito believes people are wondering about his political future, but he doesn’t want to think about politics right now. Note to Vito: nobody cares about your political future. Just take responsibility for your deeds and go away. You are an embarrassment to the Congressional district, one that doesn't like the image of its Representative driving around Virginia drunk and stopping by his girl friend's house while the sainted Mary Pat is home with the kids in Staten Island.
Sharp-clawed New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser has just posted some advice for the “frisky legislator who broke several key commandments that have long ruled the behavior of men who insist on having their cake and eating it, too.”
She told Fossella to “never get bailed out by a female friend, good or otherwise” and “never, never under the pain of death, hire a thing called a ‘crisis management consultant.” To Peyser, that is a sure admission of guilt.
Vito is finito. If he doesn’t step down, Republicans are going to toss him over overboard.
If they are lucky they will persuade Molinari to abandon her high-salaried gig at Ketchum and make another run at it for the good of the Grand Old Party.