The Right (and Wrong) Way To Address An Affair

In the last 24 hours, not one, but two stories of infidelity broke the news—both relating to politicians, of course. (Duh, no one cares about the general public and their “healthy relationships”… or lack there of). North Dakota Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley and Minnesota State Rep. Tim Kelly and Rep. Tara Mack saw their name in headlines. While the indiscretions are similar, the difference is how they are being handled publicly.

Wrigley’s affair was outed by a blogger yesterday who highlighted his infidelity with a woman unrelated to his political profession.

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North Dakota Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley

In response to the now-public affair, Wrigley and his wife invited a handful of journalists into their home for interviews, discussing the issue and admitting his faults. Wrigley said in The Forum, “Many months ago I went to Kathleen and I acknowledged to her that I had been unfaithful.That was an intensely difficult time and we turned to our longtime pastor and prayer and also to professional guidance to begin the process of reconstituting the trust that I had damaged.”

Though I will won’t condone cheating, what I can respect about Wrigley is that he came clean to his wife, Kathleen, months beforehand, attended counseling as a couple, and agreed together to work to save their 17-year marriage, if for no other reason than for the sake of their three children. “Our family is worth the work,” she said.

It wasn’t just that the lieutenant governor admitted his faults, it was the way he did it. Wrigley handled the situation like a human being. An ordinary, U.S. citizen who had committed adultery and was mature enough to admit his faults and seek help to save his marriage. Ultimately, he is a human being first and a politician second.

What I can’t respect, however, is the way that Kelly and Mack handled their predicament, which was very similar.

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Minnesota State Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing (left), and Rep. Tara Mack, R-Apple Valley (right)

Last week, the two were approached by a park ranger in Lebanon Hills Regional Park in Eagan, Minnesota, around 4:30 PM for what Kelly says was initially just a “parking violation.” While the two said they were “exchanging documents” (which sounds just as fishy), the citation states that the park ranger witnessed Kelly “making out with female in car. When I approached the car the female’s pants were unzipped and pulled down.”

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A clip of the citations written for Tara Mack and Tim Kelly by the park ranger of Lebanon Hills Regional Park in Eagan.

The representatives, married to other people, received misdemeanors and were cited and fined for a county parks ordinance that prohibits “any act ‘that constitutes a nuisance.’”

Today, the two actively insist that these allegations are not true and that the park ranger was telling a lie. “I’ve since learned the park ranger included false information in his notes, that I understand have now been obtained illegally. What he wrote is an absolute lie, and I intend on filing a complaint,” Kelly said.

Mack also insisted telling her side of the story, “When we met, a park ranger approached my vehicle and told me I was double-parked,” she said. “Approximately ten minutes later, he returned to my vehicle with a parking ticket citing a nuisance. When I asked what that meant, he responded ‘whatever I want it to mean.’”

True or not, rather than addressing the issue head on, like Wrigley did, these politicians acted as politicians do. They used their media experience to write a press release-style argument, aiming to convince us that they are perfect little angels who simply like to meet up at random parking lots to exchange business papers.

This is an example of how two similar situations can be handled completely differently. Two politicians, who should have had the political savvy to fess up and admit they were caught in a terrible situation, instead said, “Nuh-uh! No, we didn’t!” like a couple of children. While Wrigley’s scandal will be out of the public eye in no time, Kelly and Mack will continue to wither away in the spotlight, as they’ve now created reason for investigation and further negative publicity.

No one’s perfect, but we tend to hold our elected officials to a higher standard. After all, they are making decisions that impact us all. But no matter who we are or when we make mistakes, we can choose to accept responsibility and move on or linger in our own denial. It’s not the weight of the conflict by which we should be measured, but by the strength and sincerity of the resolution.

9 Responses

  1. Greg

    Were you there? Didn’t think so.

    How do you know the young disgruntled park ranger wasn’t irked when the two proved they were legally parked, and decided to be a jerk and make up the allegation?

    Not too hard to guess you’re a democrat.

  2. I think Greg is living in a fantasy world. Don’t ever stray from Fox News Greg, You obviously don’t like dealing with reality. Oh and last time I checked Wrigley is also a Republican aka the biggest hypocrites on the planet.

  3. Been There

    Thank you for pointing out the differences in the way these situations were handled. I believe it does make a difference. Taking responsibility, making amends, and working to do better is the way anyone should deal with something they have done wrong.
    People mess up in big and small ways. Drew messed up large. I admire that he went to his wife and started to do the work without being outed by anyone. To me that says good things about his character. What he did was wrong, but he has sought out how to take responsibility and make it right again.
    I feel so bad for his wife. This is an impossibly difficult time for her made worse by all of the speculation. This is a private matter for her. We as voters know it happened. We know what they are doing to put the pieces back together. Now we need to leave them alone. Your vote at the ballot box, whichever way you choose to vote, should be the only way anyone but Kathleen Wrigley ever comments on this situation again.

  4. Steve

    The strong denial is definitely what leads to greater scrutiny. It is weird a park ranger would have any reason to fabricate a story like that. If that were really the case, that would be interesting. It’s also weird that adults that work together would meet up at some remote location to exchange documents and sit in each other’s cars while doing so. They do see each other at their offices, I imagine. I’m sure they know how email works. That story seems to invite more questions than it answers.

    Either way, someone is telling an utterly ridiculous and pointless lie. Either there is a park ranger who is trying to take down some politicians with a pretty ambitious lie, or there are two politicians who think they can lie their way out of being caught, literally, with their pants down.

    The lie definitely makes the story a million times more interesting than it normally would be.

  5. Jenni

    This is not my business and I could care less about WHAT THESE PEOPLE DO IN THEIR PRIVATE LIVES. sITTI

    I could not care less what happens in these young people’s lives. Unless they are spending tax payer money to accomodate their affairs, I could care less. Please do not waste space in newspapers for sensationalist journalism. This is a reason I avoid newspapers that delve into this. It is of no interest to me.

    1. Isolation Drills

      Thank you for your comment. It says more about you than the quality, timeliness, or subject matter of the article. Keep coming back. I’ll get the popcorn.

  6. Donna

    Guarantee this was NOT THE FIRST TIME. His wife is an idiot….got to be to not see the signs…people chose to ignore the signs….she probably enjoys the popularity of being married to public figure….be looks like a douche bag. ICK.

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