Edited by Alex Constantine
Wiki: "Broadcasting career - "In late May 2001, Scarborough announced that he would resign from Congress on September 6 to spend more time with his children. In his announcement, Scarborough also speculated about possible future presidential appointments and legal and television work. He officially resigned on September 5, 2001. ... "
" ... On November 10th, 2008, Scarborough made headlines when he said the word 'fuck' live on his show. In discussing the Obama transition team, Scarborough contrasted the reputation of Clinton era staffers with Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel by saying 'These were decent steady men who don't go around flipping people off or shouting "fuck you" at the top of their lungs.' The comment was not bleeped out, and while Scarborough's guests and cohosts reacted with shock and amusement, he continued with his point, apparently oblivious to what he had said, until co-host Mika Brzezinski broke in and informed him of his mistake. Scarborough apologized for his mistake, saying that he thought he had only 'said the letter, not the word'. ... As some bloggers have noted, Scarborough has, in the past, been a vocal opponent of profanity and indecency on television."
A Death in the Congressman's Office
Does Anybody in the Press Care About Lori Klausutis?
By Denis Wright and Chris George
August 8, 2001 (APJP)
beachbrowser.com -- information on Michael Berkland's ME license suspension in 1999
Missouri v. Taylor -- complaint mentions Michael Berkland's "material false testimony"
Once upon a time, the phrase "investigative reporter" actually meant something. It usually involved hard work, possibly even mentation. Now, it seems, they just make stuff up. Especially on the Fox News Channel, where an uninitiated viewer could easily think she/he had tuned in Comedy Central. It's "Chandra-Chandra-Chandra" with the occasional "Condit is just like Clinton" thrown in. Given our media's 24/7 obsession with the Gary Condit "scandal", you might assume that there is a real dearth of hard news to pursue.
In reality, there is indeed a news story percolating out there. The story bears remarkable and ironic similarities to the Condit/Levy story. Both involve Congressmen, rumors of infidelity, and the fate of a younger female subordinate. The details are so similar as to remind one of two alternate universes. The difference between the two stories? First, in the Klausutis case as not in the Levy case, there is a real body, very dead. Second, the Klausutis case involves a Republican.
The story had a brief flutter in the Northwest Florida press, which ran a few very short stories on Lori's death. With the exception of the Northwest Florida Daily News, they were of the "Aw-what-a-shame/ nothing-to-see-here-move-along-now-folks" variety. But nationally, this mysterious death earned a mere one paragraph mention in The Washington Post's NATION IN BRIEF column:
"FORT WALTON BEACH, FL. - Lori Klausutis, a 28-year-old office worker for Rep. Joe Scarborough (R-Fl), was found dead in the congressman's district office. Police said preliminary findings from the medical examiner's office showed no foul play or any outward indication of suicide."
Unbelievably, that was it. The story was simply dropped. A young female employee of one of Florida's Congressmen had died unexpectedly in the Congressman's office. There were no witnesses to her death and the cause of death was not apparent. Klausutis' boss, Joe Scarborough had recently resigned from Congress prematurely and unexpectedly, amid rumors about his marital fidelity and soon after a divorce. He had also abruptly resigned as publisher of the Independent Florida Sun, claiming that resigning from Congress and as publisher was necessary to spend more time with his sons.
Such circumstances make one pause. Sick to death of the clear bias of the corporate owned media, and suspicious of the odd nature of this death, we began to dig for answers. The more information we discovered, the more unlikely, and the more newsworthy the story became.
Here are the facts. Lori Klausutis had a seemingly happy life. A devoted husband who listed on his online homepage "being married to Lori" as one of the honors he enjoyed, a new home in Niceville and a Catholic congregation where she was a cantor and in whose choir she sang, were some of the elements of the Good Life she enjoyed. Her husband, Dr. Timothy Klausutis, did research and development for the munitions group at nearby Eglin Air Force Base, where he presumably made a good livelihood. Although Lori hailed from the Atlanta, Georgia area where she had attended school, there were numerous family members in the area. According to her obituary in the Fort Walton Daily News, Lori had served as President and, later, Treasurer, for the Emerald Coast Young Republicans and as a aide to Congressman Scarborough, she was active during the Florida recounts. A former neighbor, Barbara Cromer, said "Every morning, I would see her run while I walked. We'd wave to each other as we passed. I loved Lori so much. She was wonderful. She was a kind, generous person, so sweet.
Then, on Friday, July 20th, the body of Lori Klausutis, 28, was found slumped next to a desk on the floor of Florida Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough's Fort Walton Beach office where Lori had served as a constituent services coordinator since May, 1999. Her body was found around 8:00 a.m. on Friday morning by a couple arriving for an appointment. She had been dead for some time. A second employee, who would have normally arrived for work at around the same time, was away on vacation. Police cordoned off the area for investigation, later announcing that there was no reason to suspect foul play, nor were there signs of suicide.
Scarborough's office released a statement several hours after the discovery:
"My staff and family are greatly saddened by the loss of Lori Klausutis. I know Lori will be missed by the thousands of citizens who regularly contact my office to seek assistance with a variety of problems. May God grant Lori's family the grace, comfort and hope that will get them through this difficult time."
The Congressman returned to Florida that same day, and his office was quick to point out that it was not unusual for him to fly home for the weekend.
There was a great deal of ambiguity over whether Lori had suffered past medical problems. Scarborough's press secretary, Miguel Serrano, made mention of health problems in Lori's past, but could not be more specific. In response, Fort Walton Beach Police Chief Steve Hogue is quoted as saying "That's part of our investigation, checking into her medical history." Associate Medical Examiner Dr. Michael Berkland said "She had a past medical history that was significant, but it remains to be seen whether that played a role in her death". Soon after a member of the immediate family rejected out of hand that Lori had any significant medical problems. She was, in fact, quite an athlete, having recently run an 8K with a very respectable time and she belonged to the Northwest Florida Track Club.
The results of the mandated autopsy, however, were deemed "inconclusive" by Dr. Berkland, who ordered more specific toxicology tests. These results were expected by the middle of the following week, around the first or second day of August. Dr. Berkland commented at the time "This turns over several puzzle pieces in the case of her death and reveals more of the picture".
Welcome to the Wheel of Fortune.
Michael Berkland, it turns out, has a very interesting background himself. Recently relocated to Florida, it is a matter of public record that Dr. Berkland's medical license in the state of Missouri was revoked in 1998 as a result of Berkland reporting false information regarding brain tissue samples in a 1996 autopsy report. Berkland does not deny the charges.
It's also a matter of public record that he was suspended from his position as Medical Examiner in the State of Florida in July, 1999.
Quincy, he's not.
Repeated requests to Dr. Stephen Nelson, Chairman of the Medical Examiners Commission, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, have failed to verify that Dr. Berkland's suspension was lifted and that his licensure and disciplinary record are clear at the present time. Dr. Nelson was appointed Chairman of the Commission by Governor Jeb Bush.
As for Lori Klausutis, rumors began to swirl as time passed with no resolution to the case, rumors that included whispers of suicide, some emanating from inside the Beltway. Family members, angered at what they considered unfair and exploitive coverage wrote the editor of the Northwest Florida Daily News, Ralph Routon, saying "For those who knew Lori, the thought of suicide, as your published reports suggested, is absolutely unthinkable. Suicide was contrary to her faith and being. She did not suffer from seizures, nor did she have a history of medical problems." Meanwhile, the final report has been issued that Lori died as a result of a blow to the head because an undiagnosed heart condition caused her to collapse and fall, hitting her head on the desk.
The initial reports from the Medical Examiner's office denied any trauma to the body that would indicate cause of death. But Berkland acknowledged on Monday, August 6th, that Lori had sustained a "scratch and a bruise" on her head and that his original denials were to prevent undue speculation about the cause of death. "The last thing we wanted was 40 questions about a head injury", he said.
And so, what we have here is the death of a healthy young woman who died of a blow to the head and a lie from the Medical Director's office about this blow which was quite obvious to the naked eye. They then had to go search for some reason why she might have "fallen" and hit her head. And they have found an "undiagnosed cardiac arrhythmia". But a number of questions remain to be answered, and we have requested opinions from Dr. Nelson, the Chairman of the Medical Examiners Commission.
The questions are:
- Were Lori's medical records thoroughly examined for any evidence of the pre-existing heart condition? It would seem that someone must have examined her heart if she ran 8Ks.
- Did Dr. Berkland personally examine the site of death in undisturbed condition in order to support his later conclusion that the physical evidence was compatible with his later conclusions?
Presumably the heart valve condition alluded to is Mitral Valve Prolapse. This may be associated with arrhythmias, but rarely with VTach (ventricular tachycardia) or VFib (ventricular fibrillation), the only arrhythmias which would stop the flow of blood to the brain.
Generally, with syncope of whatever cause the "guarding reflex", wherein one raises a hand to protect the head, is preserved.
There are several problems with the head injury. Generally, for a closed head injury to cause bleeding inside the skull, there is a much more severe injury on the outside of the skull. Do the autopsy notes, indeed, describe such a severe injury on the outside of the skull? In fact, the only closed head injury which usually may cause bleeding inside the skull involves a fracture of the temporal bone, with rupture of the underlying artery. The most important discrepancy that should be answered is how intracranial bleeding could continue if the cardiac arrhythmia had caused a cessation of blood flow to the brain!
- Were the toxicology studies entirely negative? Was there evidence of any legal or illegal substance in the blood stream which could have caused her to lose consciousness?
- Was she pregnant? If so, were fetal blood specimens obtained to determine paternity?
These are the questions being asked by some in the medical community of Dr. Stephen Nelson and Dr. Michael Berkland, and they continue to go unanswered.
Why is there a complete media blackout on this story? Why the complete preoccupation with the similar but largely speculative Condit/Levy story? What does this say about the state of our press? What does corporate ownership of the press do to what gets to be news? How much of what we think we know as fact is actually based on selective and distorted reporting? How does that "fair and balanced" cable network explain the complete hypocrisy and contempt for truth in their handling of these two similar tales? Will we ever know the truth of how Lori Klausutis died?
Three Pivotal Questions
by the Editors
September 1, 2001 (APJP) -- Over at The American Prospect's message board thread concerning this very article, Phoenix Woman has asked a trolling Scarborough "defender" three pivotal questions. We'd love to know the answers ourselves:
1) If Lori's death was just a simple accident, then why did Rep. Scarborough and his spokesman Miguel Serrano feel the need to go to two different local TV stations within three hours of her body's being found and invent a nonexistent history of chronic medical conditions for her -- in other words, why did they feel the need to lie about Lori's health?
2) Would you trust without question the word of a Medical Examiner who lost his ME license in two separate states (Missouri and Florida) because he LIED about his autopsy work (for instance, saying he had autopsied some brains when he hadn't)?
3) Why should whoever wrote Ms. Klausutis's obituary feel it was appropriate to mention nearly everything about her life -- EXCEPT where she'd been working since 1999?
A recent check of the Young Republican's web site found no mention of Lori or her contributions, nor any tribute to her memory nor comments about her passing. In fact, you will find no mention of her at all. If you go to The Pensacola News Journal's online pages, one of the few papers that actually covered the story, and search the site for "Klausutis" you will come up empty, even though the same search will pull up numerous stories matching "Scarborough". It seems as though someone wants to erase all traces of Lori Klausutis from the record and bury the story with her.
It's an increasingly puzzling case. We are reminded of the famous Kitty Genovese case, in New York, in 1964, where a young woman pleaded for her life over the period of 30 minutes, while neighbors ignored her cries.
The assailant returned three times to stab her. With Lori Klausutis, it seems possible that a corrupt North Florida establishment is determined to keep the lid on the case, even if that means silencing the news. And our esteemed news media, from the supposed mainstream liberal press stalwarts to the near delusional on air shouters of the channel that just reports so that you can decide, willingly turn the other way and ignore Lori Klausutis. But they continue to chatter endlessly in speculation over Chandra Levy. In so doing, they ignore the cries of truth, they deny their viewers access to the truth and they utterly, once and for all, betray our faith and trust in the media.
This report was made possible by devoted citizens who are determined to bring Lori's story to the light of day. Their contributions in research and insight are more appreciated than we can say. Thank you from both of us to each and every one of you.
Joe Scarborough Campaigns For Bush
FAIR reports when Bush campaigned in Florida on 8-10-04, "one of the supporters thanked by Bush for appearing with him at his campaign rally is Joe Scarborough, formerly a Republican congressmember from Florida but currently an MSNBC talkshow host. (In a photograph of the rally, Scarborough can be seen standing behind Bush on the platform.) Does MSNBC think it's OK for its hosts to be campaigning for presidential candidates? If so, where is the pro-Kerry host on MSNBC's schedule that would balance out Scarborough's partisanship?"
Medical Examiner Who Did the Autopsy on Joe Scarborough's Dead Aide Dismissed
From AllHatNoCattle.com: "'The Okaloosa/Walton medical examiner will be out of the job he's held the last six years. Dr. Michael Berkland has been dismissed by the Medical Examiner's Office in Pensacola. The Florida Medical Examiner's Commission had complained of his failure to complete dozens of autopsy reports in 2001 and 2002, a violation of state statutes' [WEAR TV, Pensacola]... Did the Coroner who will replace dismissed coroner break campaign donation laws? Dr. Gary Cumberland and spouse possibly gave more than the legal $1000 limit to Joe Scarborough... Dr. Cumberland is replacing the recently dismissed medical examiner, Dr. Michael Berkland who preformed the autopsy on Lori Klausutis, the dead aide found in Joe Scarborough's office."
On Imus' Show, Joe Scarborough Laughed about Dead Staffer
From the Daily Dystopian blog: "Conservative MSNBC news host Joe Scarborough was a guest on MSNBC's Imus show last Thursday, May 29. In complementing Scarborough on his sense of humor, Imus said, 'Don't be afraid to be funny, because you are funny. I asked you why you aren't in Congress. You said that you had sex with the intern and then you had to kill her.' To which Scarborough laughed, 'Yeah, ha, ha ha, well, what are you gonna do?'" As the Political Amazon (politicalamazon.com) wrote us, Lori "Klausutis is the Scarborough intern who was found dead in Scarborough's Fort Walton Beach office on July 21, 2001. At the same time that cable news shows on Fox and MSNBC were hounding Democratic Rep. Gary Condit over the disappearance of Chandra Levy... Scarborough appears to have been granted a free pass... Regardless of whether Scarborough actually murdered Lori Klaustis, his casual joking about her death is inexcusable." Send complaints to firstname.lastname@example.org
At Least Chandra Levy Wasn't Found Dead in Condit's Office - Why is Joe Scarborough Appearing as a Republican Spokesman on Hardball?
Jackson Thoreau writes: "Did anyone else object to seeing former Florida Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough - the Reps' answer to Gary Condit - on MSNBC's Hardball Tuesday as a party debate member against a Democratic Congresswoman from California on Iraq? That's like the Democrats putting up fellow accused adulterer and former California Congressman Gary Condit. Since Scarborough was forced to resign his seat in 2001 after an alleged extramarital affair with aide Lori Klausutis, who was found dead in his office with a major head injury...Scarborough has found a good living as a Republican media whore on Hardball and other shows. Bush even appointed him to the Resident's Council on the 21st Century Workforce, where he serves with Labor Secretary Chao. Meanwhile, Condit, whose mistress at least did not die in his office and was never linked to her disappearance, has been exiled, probably never to be heard from again. Does anyone besides me see the hypocrisy in this treatment?"
Florida Republican Primary Leads to Lawsuit
Rep. Joe Scarborough, whose 28-year-old aide Lori Klausutis was found dead in July, is in the process of quitting Congress to "spend more time with his family." His unusual mid-term resignation led to a special election, starting with a primary on July 24. Once again, the winner (State Rep. Jeff Miller) was "selected" by - you guessed it - Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris. Only this time, they screwed a bunch of competing Republican candidates, who refuse to get over it. Rev. David Reddick, a right-wing pastor and talk show host, has filed a lawsuit, and other candidates may follow. It just goes to show - there IS no honor among thieves.
Was Lori Klausutis Murdered?
Official reports of the death of Lori Klausutis, the 28-year-old aide to Joe Scarborough, have been contradictory and suspicious. Initial reports said there were no signs of trauma; the autopsy reported a "scratch and a bruise" where Lori's head hit her desk, a fact which was initially concealed by the medical examiner because "The last thing we wanted was 40 questions about a head injury." Then we learned the examiner, Michael Berkland, had his license revoked in Missouri in 1998, and suspended for six years in Florida in 1999. Now the Fort Walton Beach police are refusing to release reports about Lori's death, citing an "open investigation." Do the police believe Lori was murdered? The Northwest Florida Daily News wants to know - and so do we.
Autopsy of Lori Klausutis Leaves Many Questions Unanswered
Medical Examiner Michael Berkland concluded that Joe Scarborough's aide Lori Klausutis died as a result of a blow to the head because an undiagnosed heart condition caused her to collapse and fall, hitting her head on the desk. But Berkland's credibility is in doubt because his Missouri license was revoked in 1998 for falsifying a report; after moving to Florida, his license was suspended in 1999 for SIX years! Moreover, there appear to be inconsistencies in Berkland's report. Reporters Denis Wright and Chris George of American Politics Journal are seeking answers from Dr. Stephen Nelson, Chair of the Medical Examiners Commission, an appointee of - you guessed it! - Jeb Bush.
Blood Test and Autopsy Fail to Explain Lori's Death
The Northwest Florida Daily News is the ONLY media outlet reporting on the mysterious death of Lori Klausutis, Joe Scarborough's healthy young aide. "An autopsy and blood tests have not revealed why 28-year-old Lori Klausutis died, Associate Medical Examiner Dr. Michael Berkland said Friday. Nothing in the blood tests showed how Klausutis died seven days ago, Berkland said. The autopsy also was not conclusive, though the medical examiner did say that there was no evidence of foul play... Berkland said the next step in determining the cause of Klausutis' death will be to examine and run tests on tissue samples under the microscope... Berkland could not speculate Friday about when further examinations would be complete or when a cause of death might be established." Many of you have written the media to demand coverage of this unreported story - keep up the effort!
Mystery Surrounding Death of Scarborough (R-FL) Aide Lori Klausutis Deepens
"Six days after the 28-year-old aide to U.S. Rep. Joe Scarborough was found dead inside the congressman's Fort Walton Beach office, local police are still waiting to learn how and why [Lisa] Klausutis died. 'We are waiting on a report from the medical examiner,' said Fort Walton Beach Police Chief Steve Hogue. Berkland said last Saturday that he would likely be able to announce the cause of Klausutis' death by Wednesday, after receiving the results of blood toxicology tests. But Berkland was out of town for a conference on Wednesday. On Thursday, even though assistants in Berkland's Fort Walton Beach and Pensacola offices said he had returned to the area, Berkland did not return repeated telephone calls." Why has this story received NO coverage from all-Condit-all-the-time networks? Could it be because Scarborough is a Republican? Start calling and writing the media to demand coverage of the death of Lori Klausutis!
Corporate Media Figures If It Screams 'CONDIT!' Loud Enough, the Public Won't Notice the DEAD Woman in Joe Scarborough's Office
"ConditLevyConditLevyConditLevyConditConditLevyConditLevy..." and that concludes tonight's news.... But wait! What's that we hear under the ConditLevy din? A female aide DIED in Joe Scarborough's office? No one knows how or why? What's that - the medical examiner Michael Berkland refuses to disclose any details? What's that about a toxicology report? And what's that about Scarborough, who ran as an UNCONTESTED CANDIDATE in his district, suddenly deciding to resign from his office just a few weeks before the attractive 28-year-old's death? What do you have to say about that, NBC, ABC, CNN, NY Times, Washington Post? "ConditLevyConditLevyConditLevyConditLevyConditLevy." That's what we thought you'd say!
Stop the Presses! Young REPUBLICAN Staffer Found Dead
A young REPUBLICAN Congressional staffer, 28-year-old Lori Klausutis, was found dead in Rep. Joe Scarborough's (R-FL) office in Fort Walton Beach early Friday morning. Our hearts go out to Lori's family - but difficult questions must be asked. According to friend Mary Potthast, "'She was always sweet, bubbly, caring and considerate,' said Potthast, who had known Klausutis for almost four years. Potthast said Klausutis, an avid runner who frequently competed in races with the Northwest Florida Track Club, was 'the picture of health.'" What caused her death? "There is no evidence at all that this was an intentional act, but we can't rule it out just yet," said the medical examiner. Well then, EVERY possibility must be examined. "Scarborough... could not be reached for additional comment Saturday after expressing regrets about Klausutis' death the day before." Under the circumstances, Scarborough must be questioned by the police. Why is the media not reporting this possible murder?
GOP Takes another Hit as Rep. Joe Scarborough of Florida Announces Impending Resignation
After 7 years in office, Rep. Joe Scarborough (R-FL), a single father of two will leave Congress. Although Scarborough says his concern for his children has prompted his decision and his seat will probably be filled by another Republican, the timing of the announcement - the day after James Jeffords' historic exit from the GOP -is too poignant (we think) to be coincidence. Is Scarborough hoping to send a message to the hardline "new" Republicans that it's time for some moderation? If so, we applaud you, Joe!