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Barney Frank

Democrat, Massachusetts (1981-present)

The Honorable Barney Frank kept his homosexuality in the closet until June 1987, and he told the House that the trouble he got into with prostitute Steve Gobie and its cover up were attempts to conceal his sexual preference.  

Frank admitted that he had paid Steve Gobie for sex, had a brief sexual relationship with him, and then hired him as a personal assistant, paying for him out of Frank's own funds.  Frank fired Gobie once he learned that Gobie was using Frank's apartment for prostitution.   

Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe reporter said:  "Most pathetic of all was Frank's claim that he'd been 'victimized'--that he was a just a 'good liberal' who was 'trying to help' Gobie, but got 'suckered.'"

Frank to a direct approach with the Ethics Committee, asking them to investigate him.  In a 75-page report, following an 10-month investigation, the committee found that Frank

  • Brought discredit on the House by fixing 33 parking tickets he and Gobie received that were not incurred in connection with official congressional business.

  • Brought discredit on the House by writing a memo that included misleading information on Gobie and was eventually transmitted to a law enforcement official involved in Gobie's probation on sex and drug convictions. 

  • Did not know, as he had been charged, that Gobie was using his Capitol Hill apartment for prostitution purposes.

  • Did not engage in sex with Gobie in the House gymnasium. 

The House voted 408-18 to reprimand Frank.  It was a tough, four-hour debate.  It got ugly when the Honorable William Dannemeyer (Republican-California) started badgering Frank about his activities.  "It's a cultural war" between "Judeo-Christian ethic" and "moral relativism," shouted Dannemeyer.  Then the Honorable Julian C. Dixon (Democrat-California) lashed out at Dannemeyer, accusing him of using "edited, selective garbage" against Frank.  

This is what the Honorable Thomas Foglietta (Democrat-Pennsylvania) had to say:  "Barney Frank does not stand accused of stealing money, taking bribes or selling his office.  Barney Frank is accused of being stupid and, my friend, if being stupid were grounds for expulsion, there'd be very few of us left here."

Frank was later asked about Dannemeyer's remarks:  "There's something about homosexuality that sets Mr. Dannemeyer to vibrating.  I don't know what it is."

Frank took to the House floor an apologized to his colleagues and conceded that he had erred.  (Frank was only the seventh Member of Congress ever reprimanded).

At the same time, sex-related cases were brought up against Gus Savage, Jim Bates, and Buz Lukens.  One Republican congressman:  "I don't give a damn about Buz Lukens. . . I don't give a damn about Gus Savage . . . I don't give a damn about Jim Bates. . . . [But] if I was dying in the hospital, Barney Frank would come see me.  The others would be filing for my office space."  [For other pearls of wisdom, check the Quote Board].

Many colleagues and Washington know-it-alls figured Barney was done for.  But his Massachusetts constituents stuck with him, and he's still in Congress.  Check out Jeff Jacoby's article about Massachusetts.

Sources:  Tom Kenworthy, "House Votes Reprimand for Frank," Washington Post, July 27, 1990, A1.  Jeff Jacoby, "Sexual Double Standard in Senate,"  New Orleans Times-Picayune, Sept. 14, 1995, B7.