ABC News reported on its Web site Monday that Democratic Rep. Tim Mahoney, a married congressman facing a Republican challenger in this election, agreed to pay $121,000 in March to a former mistress and staffer after being threatened with a sexual harassment lawsuit.
Mahoney then invited an ethics investigation of himself amid reports that he had an affair and then paid the woman to keep her quiet.
While not directly addressing whether the allegations were true, Mahoney said in a brief release he was confident he'd be vindicated. Minutes later, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also called for an investigation.
The network, citing unnamed current and former Mahoney staff members, said he began his affair with Patricia Allen, 50, in 2006 while he was campaigning for Congress, promising to return morals to Washington.
Mahoney won the race after Republican Rep. Mark Foley resigned when it was revealed he sent lurid Internet messages to male teenage pages who had worked on Capitol Hill. Foley was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing.
A Mahoney representative told ABC that Allen resigned willingly and "has not received any special payment from campaign funds."
Friends of Allen's told ABC News that she wanted to end the affair, but Mahoney threatened to fire her is she did so.
"You work at my pleasure," Mahoney told Allen on a Jan. 20, 2008, recorded telephone call, a portion of which was provided to ABC.
"If you do the job that I think you should do, you get to keep your job. Whenever I don't feel like you're doing your job, then you lose your job," Mahoney can be heard telling Allen.
"You're fired," he continued. "Do you hear me?"
Allen then asks why she is being fired, indicating there is another reason than her apparent inability to do her job.
"There is no why else," Mahoney responded.
"You're firing me for other reasons," Allen said on the call. "You don't, you're not man enough to say it. So why don't you say it."
Mahoney never admits to any affair in the portion of the tape obtained by ABC.