Last week, shortly after this post, I received a call from a person who knows Daniel Stout. We talked about the situation for a while and was asked if I would like to speak with Stout. I said yes and later that day we spoke. I found him to be a man who is humble and transparent. He made no excuse for himself and spoke openly about his faith. Obviously he would rather not talk about it, but he doesn’t dodge questions when asked. He is a man who knows what it’s like to hit rock bottom and move on with life. He knows what it’s like to ask for and receive forgiveness. Frankly, I like those kind of people.
Contrary to what a few folks on the Georgia Gang said this week, this story did not break in the AJC the day before the election. It appeared on a Paulding County website a week earlier. How many people actually heard about it I don’t know, nor do I know how this will impact Stout’s reelection effort in July.
Since Stout has been elected, I’ve heard some say that he should have told the voters about this a long time ago. I couldn’t disagree more. Stout never wronged me, nor the voters of the district in which he was elected. He made it right with the people he did wrong and even made a public confession at the time (he had no obligation to do so in my opinion). I sincerely hope we don’t get to a place where candidates have to expose every mistake, big or small, they’ve ever made in their lives simply to satisfy the blood lust of a few. I think it’s more instructive to observe how people handle themselves when their mistakes are uncovered. In my opinion, Daniel Stout has handled this very well. As they say, “past performance in not indicative of future results,” but I’ll be interested to see how Stout performs as a Legislator. I think he’ll do just fine.
For more about this story, read this article from the AJC earlier this week. Here’s an excerpt:
Stout said he wasn’t surprised when reports of his affair surfaced on blogs in the last few days of the campaign. Shortly after the affair, he confessed to his wife and pastor and asked forgiveness before members of the Dunwoody church he was attending.
“God took me, broke me and ground me,” he said. “The real story to me is not about judgment, but about forgiveness and change.”
In the final days of the campaign, Stout posted his cellphone number and welcomed voters to call if they wanted to discuss the affair. He also said in a Web post that the affair “stopped short of ‘sex,’” but was still adulterous, unfaithful and broke up his first marriage. He remarried in 2005 and remains close to the daughter from his first marriage.
Ron Davis, a software company administrator who lives in Paulding County and voted for Stout, said he doesn’t believe it’s fair to draw too many comparisons between Stout and Richardson.
Stout wasn’t a legislator at the time of the affair, Davis said.
“And he was forthcoming about it,” he said. “Richardson wasn’t so much.”
Davis said he also took into account Stout’s young age at the time of the affair and his support for pro-life legislation, smaller government and lower taxes.
Dannie Moore, a Paulding County resident and mother of six, said she’s known Stout for about two years through the local Right to Life chapter and supported him in the election.
“I think he’s proven himself to the people he works with and the people he’s been around,” she said.
Moore said she’s been impressed by his solid second marriage, his level of maturity and knowledge. She dismissed the affair as a mistake of youth.
“I don’t know that it was right to dig up something like that,” Moore said. “That’s not him.
Rep. Martin Scott, a longtime friend and three-term legislator from Rossville, said he was a member of the church in Dunwoody that Stout attended and was at services on the day Stout appeared before him and about 300 others to ask forgiveness.
“Every single person — men, women and children — got in line, hugged him and said they forgave him,” Scott said. “I’d never been in anything like that, and I hope I never am again. It was a powerful testimony of growth and repentance.”