Earlier this year, longtime Charleston state Sen. Robert Ford had to step down from his seat about some picky little charges that included his using campaign dollars to make purchases at adult stores, prompting something like the 1,000th special election in the state to fill a seat because of a lapse in ethics.
Not long afterward, Ford would not simply go away quietly. Perhaps he attended political classes with Anthony Weiner, Eliot Spitzer and others who figure as long as they've been caught with their pants down they may as well enjoy the breeze.
At any rate, media outlets were finding themselves hit with a barrage of emails from Ford weighing in on current political goings-on in Columbia. Eventually, they seemed to fade. At least, that is, perhaps they simply didn't make my inbox. That happens sometimes, and I don't always scour my junk email folder, which is where I was hoping his emails would land anyway.
Frankly, I hadn't given Ford another thought in a while. OK, except for when I thought about the fact his ethical lapses were costing the state another election, another senator in training who, perhaps on the bright side of things, would learn from Ford's example and avoid the ethics viper pit.
And then it happened early last week. Another email from Ford. This one, however, the email server astutely said it "thinks" is junk. But this one was quite different from the past missives. Instead of launching attacks on fellow former politicos, this was a plea for help. Creative, too. Only, I'd seen similar pleas for help and heard of similar ones, scams, being deployed on Facebook when someone's account got hijacked.
The email, which came with the subject line of "Frightening Experience........Robert Ford" was short enough to include, typos and all, so here it is:
It has been a horrible experience for me here in Manila Philippines ,during my vacation I was attacked by some thugs around the hotel vicinity were i lodged who beat me up and collected all my money,credit card including my cell phone and other important documents i took along.But to the glory of God i still have my passport and my life spared. i have been to the police and embassy but they are not helping issues i was ask to come back in the next 3 days,right now i am in a local library mailing you for financial assistance.
My flight leaves soon and i am having a problem settling my hotel bills,please i need you to help me with (1,700.00 Dollars ) to foot my bills and board a plane back to the state because right now i am stranded and you are my only hope to get out of this mess.When i get back to the states i will refund you every dime that you've spent if possible with interest...Write me back so i can tell you how to get the money to my present location.
~Robert Ford, Senator
Rather convincing, eh? Nothing in there that would cause one to say, "Hmmmm. Wonder if this is some sort of scam. Or maybe it's real, like that email I got from a rich prince in Africa who was in a bind and needed money. The only way he could get it was by sending me a check for a million dollars that I could deposit in my account, keep $500,000 and wire the rest to his account."
First of all, why would Ford be vacationing in the Philippines. Nothing against the Philippines, mind you, but there have been a few safety warnings out there. And, while I could be wrong, I don't think Manila is an adult store mecca. Of course, Ford might have some sort of weird foot fetish and want to explore the Museum of Imeldo Marcos' Million Pairs of Shoes. He must not have heard a good many of her shoes were destroyed by termites and flood damage.
The recipient list on this particular email was suppressed, but if it was the same media list as the others, and if the email really was from the former senator, there are two obvious problems here: Journalists don't have spare money to send anyone, much less a disgraced senator, and Ford doesn't likely have many friends in the media, at least not the kind that would give money even if they had it.
So, unless that email also went out to the folks that still rally around Ford, forgiving his ethical lapses - and obviously that would include those who received the kinky adult store items he bought as thank-you gifts for their prior support - chances are he's still in that airport in the Philippines. Poor guy. Airport food is not cheap, and he doesn't even have a credit card to his name.
If we get a chance to fit it in his schedule, we'll put our newly appointed foreign correspondent Frank Bumb on the story. As soon as he returns from Syria. That's at least more believable than Ford's email.
Whiting is executive editor of the Index-Journal. Contact him at 943-2522; email firstname.lastname@example.org ,or follow him on Twitter at IJEDITOR. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper's opinion.