When the messy divorce proceeding involving billionaire conservative funder -- and owner of The Tribune-Review daily in Pittsburgh -- Richard Mellon Scaife went public, you had to know it would get tawdry before it was over. The battle over the couple's dogs now seem like the innocent days, in the wake of an epic report in today's Washington Post by David Segal.
The title alone is worth it: "Low Road to Splitsville: Right-Wing Publisher's Breakup Is Super-Rich In Tawdry Details."
The full story is at www.washingtonpost.com. Here are a couple of excerpts.*
Remember him? The cantankerous, reclusive 75-year-old billionaire who's spent a sizable chunk of his inherited fortune bankrolling conservative causes and trying to kneecap Democrats? He's best known for funding efforts to smear then-President Bill Clinton, but more quietly he's given in excess of $300 million to right-leaning activists, watchdogs and think tanks. Atop his list of favorite donees: the family-values-focused Heritage Foundation, which has published papers with titles such as "Restoring a Culture of Marriage."
The culture of his own marriage is apparently past restoring. With the legal fight still in the weigh-in phase, the story of Scaife v. Scaife already includes a dog-snatching, an assault, a night in jail and that divorce court perennial, allegations of adultery.
Oh, and there's the money. Three words, people.
No. Pre. Nup.*
In late 2005, Ritchie Scaife peered through a window at one of her husband's many homes and saw him with one Tammy Sue Vasco, a woman whose colorful criminal history includes an arrest for prostitution. And this tryst was no one-afternoon stand. Ritchie Scaife describes Vasco in court filings as her husband's "mistress."....
At some point in late 2005, Ritchie started having suspicions about her husband and hired a private investigator named Keith Scannell, a specialist in high-end surveillance for insurance companies. In December of that year, Scannell followed Richard Scaife to nearby North Huntingdon, home of Doug's Motel, a place where the TVs are bolted to the furniture and rooms can be rented in three-hour increments, for $28. (It's now under new management and renamed the Huntingdon Inn. Head east on Route 8, then east on Route 30.) There, according to Scannell, Scaife spent a few hours with Tammy Sue Vasco.
Why a billionaire would shack up at Doug's Motel, of all places, is a mystery. …