Buchanan repeated discredited claim that Rep. Frank “had a fellow running ... basically a full-service whorehouse in his basement”

On MSNBC, Pat Buchanan asserted that Rep. Barney Frank “had a fellow running a -- basically a full-service whorehouse in his basement.” In fact, the House ethics committee found that the man's initial public assertions that he had run a prostitution ring out of Frank's residence were contradicted by evidence and the sworn testimony of third parties.

On the August 29 edition of MSNBC Live with Dan Abrams, during a discussion of congressional sex scandals, MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan asserted that Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) “had a fellow running a -- basically a full-service whorehouse in his basement.” In fact, the House ethics committee -- which, at Frank's request, investigated the allegations made by Stephen Gobie -- found that Gobie's initial public assertions that he had run a prostitution ring out of Frank's residence were “contradicted by third-party sworn testimony or other evidence.” In its report, the committee further absolved Frank of allegations that he was aware of “prostitution activities alleged to have taken place in his apartment,” as Media Matters for America documented.

In August 1989, Gobie reportedly told The Washington Times that he ran a prostitution ring out of Frank's Washington, D.C., apartment and that Frank was aware of his operation. While Frank admitted to having paid Gobie for sex several years earlier and to later hiring Gobie as an assistant, Frank denied any knowledge that Gobie allegedly ran a prostitution ring out of Frank's apartment.

As The Guardian reported on August 30, 1989, Frank “asked the House ethics committee ... to investigate his relationship with” Gobie. The committee subsequently launched a 10-month investigation, ultimately finding, as The Boston Globe reported on July 27, 1990, “that Frank had violated House rules by writing a misleading memo that was used in an effort to end prostitute Stephen Gobie's probation on felony charges and by allowing his House privileges to be used to waive 33 parking tickets that Gobie might have received while driving Frank's car.” The committee's report on the investigation recommended Frank be reprimanded for the infractions, and the House voted for such punishment on July 26, 1990. However, the committee further concluded that “the weight of the evidence does not indicate that Representative Frank had either prior or concomitant knowledge of prostitution activities alleged to have taken place in his apartment.”

Moreover, contrary to Buchanan's assertion, the ethics committee's report repeatedly noted that Gobie's purported evidence that he had been conducting a prostitution ring out of Frank's residence collapsed under scrutiny. The committee noted that several of Gobie's claims were “repudiated by sworn testimony” from other individuals (Page 18). For example:

Not only have Representative Frank's landlords, Colonel and Mrs. James Daugherty, submitted sworn testimony contradicting Mr. Gobie's assertion, Mr. Gobie's assertion has also been rendered questionable by the fact that his claims of call-forwarding service were contradicted by the telephone company.

Gobie had claimed that Frank allowed him to forward calls from his “escort service” to Frank's apartment.

Also, members of the committee repeatedly asked Gobie if he had “any knowledge whether any of the clients that you arranged to engage your escort service in fact were involved or participated in any sexual activity at the Congressman's residence” or whether Gobie himself engaged in such activities at Frank's apartment. In each instance, Gobie answered, “Not that I can recall at this time” (Page 7).

The committee concluded “with Respect to the Credibility of Stephen L. Gobie”:

While much has been said, written, and speculated with respect to Representative Barney Frank's relationship with Stephen L. Gobie, it is clear that most, if not all, of such media attention has been the product of assertions made by Mr. Gobie. As has been discussed in detail in prior sections of this Report, the Committee went to great lengths in seeking testimony or other information relevant to the assertions. In numerous instances where an assertion made by Mr. Gobie (either publicly or during his Committee deposition) was investigated for accuracy, the assertion was contradicted by third-party sworn testimony or other evidence of Mr. Gobie himself (Page 37).

From the August 29 edition of MSNBC Live with Dan Abrams:

ABRAMS: Are Republicans more prone to sex scandals? We looked at the past 10 years, all right. By our rough count, Republicans had double -- double -- the political sex scandals of Democrats: 10 to 5 over the past decade. We looked at Congress, governors, and of course the presidency -- and because Capitol Hill is no stranger to scandal, it was not an easy task, going through the history.

But in the past year alone, there's [Sen.] Larry Craig [ID]; there's Sen. David Vitter [LA], who admitted seeing a prostitute; [former] Congressman Mark Foley [FL] and those emails to congressional pages. Now, you may remember Republican Illinois Senate candidate Jack Ryan, who dropped out of the race when his wife alleged he'd taken her to sex clubs and asked her to have sex in front of other people. Louisiana Congressman Bob Livingston, an impeach-Clinton leader who abruptly resigned hours before the vote to impeach Clinton after revelations he had an extramarital affair. Ohio Congressman Steve LaTourette's affair was exposed by the Hill newspaper in 2003. GOP Congressman Don Sherwood [PA] lost his seat last November after reports he settled a lawsuit with a former mistress who accused him of strangling her. And there's former House Speaker Newt Gingrich [GA] who finally admitted he had an affair. And revelations former Congressman Henry Hyde [IL] had an extramarital affair 30 years earlier. Representative Ed Schrock [VA] decided not to run for re-election after allegations came out about taped phone calls of him with another man.

Democrats have had their bad apples, too: President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky; “I'm a gay American” Jim McGreevey [NJ]; Congressman Gary Condit's [CA] career ruined when it was revealed he told police he had an affair with murdered intern Chandra Levy; former West Virginia Governor Bob Wise admitted to an extramarital affair; Kentucky Governor Paul Patton's political career fell apart after allegations he retaliated against an ex-mistress' business when she ended the affair.

All right, so there you have the last 10 years in political sex scandals laid out, but bottom line, Pat, it does seem that at least when you look at the last 10 years, you got 10 to 5 and you got these family values guys getting busted -- are the Republicans involved in these sex scandals more often?

BUCHANAN: I don't really think so. I mean, in terms of morality up on the Hill, I think it's six-one, half-dozen of the other. But I will say this, there's no doubt about it, the retribution by the Republican base against people who engage in extramarital sex, and especially homosexual activity, is much more severe.

You remember the famous case of [former Rep.] Gerry Studds [MA] and [Rep.] Barney Frank [MA], one of whom had a fellow running a basically a full-service whorehouse in his basement and the other of whom took a 16-year-old page around the world -- both survived, were re-elected, but a Republican congressman involved with a 17-year-old female intern was thrown out immediately. I don't know that there's more of one than the other. It used to be back in the time, the Nixon era, it was the Democrats, you know, [late Rep.] Wilbur Mills [AR].