A crash course in double standards in political affairs

Amy Koch, shown in January 2011 after being elected Senate majority leader. Jim Mone | AP file

We’re coming up on the fifth anniversary of one of the most bizarre news conferences in Minnesota political history.

December 11 marks the day a group of men in the Minnesota Senate held a news conference to reveal the state’s first female majority leader in the Minnesota Senate was having an affair.

They did so under the guise of needing to get in front of the rumors, although it’s been clear for a few years now that they created the rumors in what I said in 2013 was a classic power play. And a shameful one for which they never atoned.

Amy Koch broke her silence on the matter in early 2013 but she tells The Daily Beast today that she’s spent a lot of time since then reading about other similar scandals to see who tends to come back from these sorts of things and who doesn’t.

“How do they approach things? Why does one person come back and another person doesn’t? And one thing I noticed, I didn’t really find any stories about women politicians…. there’s women on the other end of these scandals but there’s not one where it’s a woman politician. None that I found,” she said.

She left politics and bought a bowling alley in Maple Lake, which she’s recently sold. She occasionally appears on the political panel on TPT’s Almanac and has started a political consulting business.

It’s a longer-than-usual road back than the one men in politics get to take.

“I’ve thought a lot about it and I’ve had a lot of people—women and men—say to me it wouldn’t have happened to me if I were a man,” she says. “But I’m not sure if what happened to me happened because I’m a woman.”

The Daily Beast is more sure. It did. It says the 2016 election provided “a crash course in double standards.”

Trump’s inner circle is lousy with men who have done worse than Amy Koch, and not suffered nearly the professional consequences. Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, currently lobbying hard to be made Secretary of State, married his second cousin and began dating his second wife before he and his first wife divorced.

While he was still married to his second wife (not to be confused with his second cousin), Giuliani allegedly carried on a long affair with his press secretary. In the late 1990’s, Giuliani met a woman named Judith (a new one, not the press secretary. Keep up.), and used his publicly-funded NYPD security detail to escort him to and from liaisons with the woman who would turn out to be his future third wife. He announced his separation to the public and to his second wife simultaneously, with a press conference.

David Petraeus, another rumored Secretary of State candidate, carried on a years-long affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell that was only discovered in 2012, the year after he was appointed head of the CIA.

Broadwell and Petraeus had been exchanging love notes over unencrypted channels that were discovered by the FBI after Broadwell began cyberstalking a socialite named Jill Kelley. In 2015, Petraeus pled guilty to mishandling classified information with Broadwell, a misdemeanor that resulted in two years’ probation and a $100,000 fine.

If he’s selected as Secretary of State, Petraeus will still be on probation when Trump is inaugurated on January 20, 2017, and will continue to be on probation for the first three months of his theoretical tenure as the person fourth in line to the Presidency.

Amy Koch did not mishandle classified information like David Petraeus. She did not obscure the use of public funds from taxpayers to hide her affair from the public, like Rudy Giuliani.

She didn’t use prostitutes like David Vitter, or send suggestive pictures to a handful of people over and over again like Anthony Weiner. She didn’t get oral sex from a 22-year-old intern in the Oval Office like Bill Clinton. “Mine was kind of boring by comparison,” she says. “It was just an affair.”

The Daily Beast says Koch’s comeback “represents women being allowed to fail. In order to achieve true equality, women need to be free to be celebrated when they’re just as good as men, and forgiven when they’re just as bad.”