Well, it was only a matter of time, wasn't it? According to authorities, one of our own social conservative Republicans has been caught cheating on his wife, and he was doing it with a young legislative intern. At this juncture, we're going to resist the temptation to make a joke about family values. That's getting so old it's not funny anymore.
Suffice it to say that like John Ensign, Mark Sanford and all the rest on the national stage lately, this one is really rich--with a little homemade porn and a bumbling blackmailer tossed into the story to make it even spicier. Ensnared in Tennessee's own sex scandal tonight is Sen. Paul Stanley, the wingnut from Germantown who has crusaded to ban gay adoption of children and who once made the really stupid mistake of saying: "When you're married, there's a commitment there."
According to court documents, here's what happened
: Stanley, who is married with two children, was accused of having an affair with a 22-year-old legislative intern, McKensie Morrison, by the woman's boyfriend. The boyfriend, Joel Palmer Watts. 28, discovered a computer memory disc with sexually explicit photographs of Morrison that appeared to have been taken in Stanley's apartment. Watts then blackmailed Stanley, demanding $10,000 in return for keeping quiet.
"Releasing the photographs to individuals or the media would cause embarrassment, both professionally and personally, to Stanley," according to the court affidavit, as if we needed an explanation for why this might pose a small problem for our family values champion. (Notably, as a House member, Stanley introduced a bill prohibiting the showing of pornographic materials in a moving vehicle. Don't ask us to explain why.)
Now a blackmail victim, Stanley went to the TBI, and they set up Watts. Stanley met his blackmailer behind the El Rey Azteca Mexican restaurant in Whites Creek. Where else? According to court documents:
"When Watts arrived, he and Stanley exchanged the memory disc for the $10,000.00. Watts was taken into custody at that time. During a subsequent interview, Watts admitted to demanding the money from Stanley."
All this happened in April and, amazingly, Stanley managed to keep it quiet until now. Watts has been charged with extortion. Stanley isn't talking to reporters. At the Nashville Post, Ken Whitehouse
is reporting the senator will resign as chair of the Commerce Committee tomorrow. Stanley can only hope that satisfies his Republicans colleagues. But it's not likely Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, who is running for governor, will have much appetite for publicly defending Stanley, and odds are Republicans won't wait too long before politely suggesting that he quit the Senate for the good of the party.
to read the court affidavit. Also see Memphis Daily News
... NewsChannel 5 ... MyFoxMemphis
... Memphis Flyer
... Associated Press
... Commercial Appeal.