How Not to Handle a Scandal

Meet Congressman Tim Mahoney of Florida. Mr. Mahoney won his seat in Congress two years ago in the wake of the resignation by the incumbent Congressman Mark Foley, who was involved in sex scandal with House of Representatives pages.

Last week, Congressman Mahoney, who championed “family values” in his successful 2006 campaign, admitted to a sex scandal of his own — two affairs since taking office, multiple affairs throughout his marriage.

Mr. Mahoney is running for reelection anyway, claiming he broke no law. “At the end of the day, you have to take personal responsibility for what you do. And that, uh, you know, you gotta — you gotta stand for what you believe in.”

Well, while some political consultants would argue that Mr. Mahoney has done what he needed to do to get re-elected. Others would argue that Mr. Mahoney has broken faith with the voters who elected him and that he should end his campaign for reelection.

In business, sometimes a brand is so tarnished it should be retired. Other times, brands and companies can recover from a catastrophe or brand-damaging crisis. (Think Enron vs. Exxon Mobile.)

But this time around, Congressman Mahoney should not make the voters fire him on November 4. He would enhance his damaged personal brand if he stepped aside.

Check out his first TV interview since last week’s press conference.


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