Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mike Duvall: Return of the Mack

Many of you are already aware of the sensation that is Republican California Assemblyman Mike Duvall. While participating in an assembly meeting on July 6, 2009, he began chatting with a fellow politician who had the misfortune of being seated next to him. The problem is that the conversation was not only recorded, it was televised as well. After all, there is no safer place to confide potentially career-ending carnal adventures than in front of a microphone at a televised meeting. In the now infamous conversation, he divulged his newly discovered penchant for administering a good spanking, his fondness of immodest undergarments, and indirectly, his blatant disregard for latex-based prophylactics. While these characteristics are not, in and of themselves, particularly noteworthy or even unethical, his choice of application was.

You see, Mike Duvall is a married father of two and a recent addition to the California Assembly Rules Committee which oversees member ethics. His previously unimpeachable credibility included a 100% rating by the California Republican Assembly and the Capital Resources Institute for his conservative voting record and his unwavering stance on the importance of family values. He even received the Ethics in America Award from Chapman University for his “demonstration of the highest standards of ethical integrity.”

This provided a deeply ironic backdrop when it was revealed that the posterior his hand was striking, belonged not to the mother of his children, but to another married woman. The identity of the “spankee” would have likely remained unknown had Mr. Duvall not felt it pertinent to emphasize the fact that his mistress was nearly two decades his junior by revealing her birthday. He then concluded his laughter-punctuated discourse by referring to his other secret lover, the existence of whom was seemingly unknown to both his spouse and mistress number one.

When the tape was unleashed upon the media in early September, it did not take long for a handful of arithmetic-savvy journalists to uncover the identity of Duvall’s paramour; Heidi DeJong Barsuglia, a 36 year old energy lobbyist employed by California-based utilities giant Sempra Energy. It is at this point the coincidences began piling up:

· Duvall received $1,500 in campaigned contributions from Sempra Energy.

· In February of 2009, Duvall became vice-chairman of the Utilities and Commerce committee.

· In April 2009, Barsuglia was hired by Sempra as a top lobbyist .

· In May 2009, Duvall began officially opposing a bill that would require Sempra and other energy companies to acquire a certain percentage of their electricity from environmentally friendly sources .

· In July 2009, Duvall reveals that he and Barsuglia are involved in an ongoing sexual relationship.

Immediately after the story broke, Duvall resigned his post on the California Assembly while insisting that if he was guilty of anything, it was “inappropriate storytelling.” He continues to maintain that the affair and two female participants therein, were figments of his rather vivid imagination.

While Duvall’s hasty resignation prevented any digging by the Assembly ethics committee, several investigations were launched by the FBI, U.S. Attorney’s Office, California Attorney General, and the Fair Political Practices Commission. Earlier this month, all four concluded that there was not enough evidence to prove that any laws had been broken and closed the investigation.

For her part, Mrs. Barsuglia continues to deny the affair or any wrongdoing and is still employed by Sempra Energy. She has indicated on several occasions that she might seek legal action against Duvall for defamation of character, but as of this writing has not done so.

I find several aspects of this story troubling, not the least of which is that it apparently takes the combined effort of two federal and two state agencies to reach the conclusion that nothing illegal occurred. I am not sure which one was a greater misallocation of tax funding; Duvall’s salary or the quad-pronged inquisition concerning his actions while being paid that salary.

Admittedly, the circumstances are not exactly ripe for criminal prosecution, but I cannot believe that “inappropriate storytelling” is all the public gets in the way of an apology. It sounds like a late night Cinemax series or something that occurs when your uncle gets inebriated at a family get together. This guy drew over $110,000 a year (plus over $120 for daily expenses) in taxpayer money and likely used much of that salary to carry on not one, but two simultaneous affairs with female lobbyists.

As upset as I am about this incident, I do believe that there are several lessons to be learned:

· Never, ever, piss off the audio / video geeks. Why do you suppose that something recorded in July suddenly surfaced in September? Duvall probably snubbed one of the A/V guys at an Olive Garden one day and the stage was set…

· If you decide to discuss your illicit affairs in front of known working sound equipment, try not to mention identifiable information about the other party such as birthday, name, social security number, birthmarks, or blood type. After all, that is just common courtesy.

· If, by some unfortunate coincidence you find yourself in the same position as Mr. Duvall, it is imperative that you hint at a history of substance abuse during your resignation speech. This allows you to enter rehab, thereby redirecting responsibility for your infidelity / embezzlement / DUI / anti-Semitism to your penchant for model glue and scotch.

· There are several creative ways to lower your energy bills. While the rest of America is installing compact fluorescent bulbs and unplugging their cell phone chargers, Mr. Duvall realized that it would be far more efficient to engage in a romantic relationship with an energy lobbyist and “spank” his utility costs into submission.

Only time will tell where Mr. Duvall’s career path will lead, but if he is fortunate, it will be far away from a microphone.

The original video and transcript can be found here:

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