When the Joe Scarborough scandal about the death of congressional aide Lori Klausutis broke, Americans were already embroiled in the scandal of another politician and female employee: Gary Condit and Chandra Levy. With Chandra Levy's disappearance – and an alleged affair between her and Condit–grabbing all the headlines, the mysterious death of Lori Klausutis in Congressman Scarborough's Fort Walton Beach, Florida, barely blipped on the radar.
On July 20, 2001, Juanita and Andreas Bergmann showed up to an appointment in Congressman Joe Scarborough's Fort Walton Beach, Florida, office, hoping for help with Mr. Bergmann's green card application. They never could have imagined they would find a dead body beside one of the desks, apparently dead since the day before. The body belonged to Lori Klausutis, the congressional aide who had booked their appointment.
Had Lori Klausutis been older or in ill health, her death might never have sparked controversy. However, she was just 28 years old and ran daily. Police found no signs of foul play or suicide. Medical Examiner Dr. Michael Berkland concluded Klausutis had an undiagnosed abnormal heart rhythm that caused her to fall. On her way down, her head hit a desk, and the blow proved fatal.
In a less politically charged environment, people might have accepted the police and medical examiner's findings. But it was the summer of missing and dead congressional interns, and conspiracy theorists thought the medical examiner's story stunk like a rotting corpse. After all, Gary Condit, a Democrat, had endured plenty of mudslinging and finger pointing from the press over the disappearance of his intern and alleged lover, Chandra Levy. Joe Scarborough, a Republican, got off scot free with nary a nasty headline. To some, the disparities in coverage hardly seemed fair or balanced, especially since Joe Scarborough had alleged infidelities of his own, not to mention a divorce and recently announced resignation from Congress. Worse than the skeletons in his closet, he had a dead body in his office.
And then there were all those inconsistencies and unreliable authorities. Something was rotten in the state of Florida.
Police originally assured the public that Klausutis suffered no physical trauma–a statement in direct conflict with Dr. Berkland's findings about a blow to the head.
Dr. Berkland's own spotty record did not help matters. Missouri had revoked his license to practice medicine in 1998, and Florida suspended him as Medical Examiner for failing to report that revocation. Worse, several criminal convictions in Missouri came into question because of Dr. Berkland's loss of licensure. He may as well have performed the autopsy in a grassy knoll.
The Medical Examiner and police weren't the only ones with inconsistent stories. In the hours following the discovery of Lori's body, Joe Scarborough's office released statements about her having a history of medical problems. However, the Klausutis family denied she had medical issues. Some wondered why Joe Scarborough would make up a medical history–unless, of course, he had a guilty conscience and something to hide.
Although the story never hit the fever pitch of the Condit-Levy scandal, some left-leaning media outlets and personalities have attempted to keep the Joe Scarborough scandal alive and have even alleged media bias. Michael Moore has even accused called Joe Scarborough a murderer. In fact, Joe Scarborough was so rattled by Moore's accusations that in 2004, he asked a guest on his "Scarborough Country" show to pass along a message to Michael Moore. "When he has time for you, just tell him to stop going around calling me a murderer or I'm going to have to call my lawyers."
In 2010–nine years after Lori's death–Mark Moulitsas, author of popular liberal blog "Daily Kos," antagonized Joe Scarborough via Twitter. When Joe Scarborough tweeted that the "media has been negligent" about a story, Moulitsas fired back, "Like story of a certain dead intern." And with that, he resurrected the Joe Scarborough scandal for the next generation of conspiracy theorists.