Predatorgate: Failure at the top
Young boy, get into my
G.O.P. Leaders Knew in Late ’05 of E-Mail
By CARL HULSE and RAYMOND HERNANDEZ
WASHINGTON, Sept. 30 — Top House Republicans knew for months about e-mail traffic between Representative Mark Foley and a former teenage page, but kept the matter secret and allowed Mr. Foley to remain head of a Congressional caucus on children’s issues, Republican lawmakers said Saturday.With five weeks to go, the White House and the House leadership is in deep shit. There are no easy answers for this kind of failure, because it goes to the top.
Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers said Saturday that Congress and the public deserved a full report on Mr. Foley’s dealings with the pages, who are high school students who serve as runners and perform other duties. They said there should also be an inquiry into the leadership’s knowledge of his activities and its response.
“Anyone who was involved in the chain of information should come forward and tell when they were told, what they were told and what they did with the information when they got it,” said Representative Peter T. King, Republican of New York. Mr. King called it a “dark day” for Congress and said, “We need a full investigation.”
Representative Christopher Shays, Republican of Connecticut, said any leader who had been aware of Mr. Foley’s behavior and failed to take action should step down. “If they knew or should have known the extent of this problem, they should not serve in leadership,” Mr. Shays said.
On Saturday night, the House Republican leadership issued a joint statement that characterized the communications between Mr. Foley and the former page as “unacceptable and abhorrent.”
“It is an obscene breach of trust,” the statement said. “His immediate resignation must now be followed by the full weight of the criminal justice system.”
The statement, from Mr. Hastert, Mr. Boehner and the majority whip, Roy Blunt, said they had asked for specific rules governing the communications and contacts between pages and lawmakers and would create of a toll-free number for pages and their parents to report concerns.
Besides the leaders, other lawmakers and Congressional officers who served on the board that oversaw the page program were aware of e-mail messages, though the Democratic lawmaker who serves on the board, Representative Dale E. Kildee of Michigan, said Saturday that he had never been informed.
According to lawmakers and the speaker’s office, the page who received the e-mail forwarded the one in which Mr. Foley, 52, asked for his picture, to a colleague in Mr. Alexander’s office, repeatedly calling it “sick” and saying it “freaked me out.”
Mr. Alexander called the boy’s parents, who, he said Saturday, told him they did not want to pursue the matter but wanted Mr. Foley to stop.
“They asked Foley about the email,” the speaker’s statement said. “Congressman Shimkus and the clerk made it clear that to avoid even the appearance of impropriety and at the request of the parents, Congressman Foley was to immediately cease any communication with the young man.”
On Saturday, Mr. Shimkus’ spokesman, Steve Tomaszewski, said, “Obviously Foley lied about the other e-mails.” said Saturday.
Mr. Tomaszewski said Mr. Shimkus would not comment on any other conversations he had with House leaders about the matter because it was referred to the ethics committee by a vote of House Friday. A spokesman for Mr. Alexander did not respond to telephone and e-mail messages.
Kevin Madden, a spokesman for Mr. Boehner, said Saturday that Mr. Hastert had a “brief, nonspecific” conversation about the subject with Mr. Alexander in the spring but that he could not recall with certainty whether he had discussed it with other leaders.
Democrats moved quickly to criticize Mr. Reynolds, who at the same time he oversees House campaigns nationally is facing the potential of a serious challenge from Jack Davis, a wealthy businessman who has vowed to spend at least $2 million of his own money in the contest. “Tom Reynolds had a moral obligation to protect our children,” said Curtis Ellis, a spokesman for Mr. Davis.
Carl Forti, a spokesman for Mr. Reynolds, said the congressman became aware of contact between Mr. Foley and the young page this past spring, when Mr. Alexander brought it to his attention. Mr. Forti said that Mr. Alexander had told Mr. Reynolds of an e-mail exchange between Mr. Foley and the page, but that he did not show Mr. Reynolds the e-mail messages and their contents.
In another example of the potential political consequences of the Foley case, the opponent of Representative Deborah Pryce of Ohio, the fourth-ranking House Republican, called on Ms. Pryce to return $5,000 in aid she received from Mr. Foley. Mr. Foley, who served on the powerful Ways and Means Committee, also gave at least $100,000 to the party campaign committee in July.
Strategists for both parties said it was too early to tell what impact the furor might have on Congressional elections now five weeks away but said at a minimum it could lower the already dismal public view of incumbents and discourage conservative voters.
“It’s now clear from all the reports coming in from across the country that the Republican leadership team has been well aware of this problem with the pages for well over a year,” Mr. Mahoney said at a campaign stop at Palm Beach International Airport. “It looks to me that it was more important to hold onto a seat and to hold onto power than to take care of our children.”
At the Justice Department, an official said that there was no investigation under way but that the agency had “real interest” in examining the circumstances to see if any crimes were committed.
Several of Mr. Foley’s former colleagues demanded a criminal inquiry.
Representative Robert E. Cramer, an Alabama Democrat who was co-chairman with Mr. Foley of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, condemned Mr. Foley’s actions as “shocking and disturbing.”
“Anyone, including Foley, involved in this type of behavior should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” he said.
Every organization which fails to protects kids does so, not out of mailce, but of comfort. Child sex predators are not sickos living in caves, but people who walk among us, live among us. Mark Foley wasn't some monster, but he was clever. Like John Walker, who spouted right wing nonsense while spying for the Soviets, or Robert Hanssen, who worked for the FBI while taking pay from the KGB, the best way to hide is in plain sight. Who would suspect a child sex predator with writing the laws to punish his activities?
So as long as Foley dated servicemen and other young hardbodies, it was only a personality trait, not a political issue. But Foley is now only a minor player in his own story. This is going to destroy the House leadership. Hastert and the rest of the, even DeLay, knew Foley was a predator and a danger to the pages in their charge. When it comes out that he was corresponding with a number of pages and the FBI will find out the number, the GOP leadership will have failed it's last test.
They knew Foley was a pervert, they knew he chased boys and did God knows what to them. And because, against every bit of common sense, they trusted his word, they are now fucked. Because if a man will chase 16 year old pages, he certainly will lie about the content of his discussions with them.
Hastert was never up to the job, he was DeLay's cover. But now, he let a child sex predator roam the halls of Congress, in contact with pages, and did nothing. That's the kind of failure which should be met with resignation, at a minimum and a possible criminal prosecution.
The right has been screaming about how scary it would be to have Nancy Pelosi as speaker. Well, I can say one thing about that: she's a grandmother. She won't let your children be stalked by a child sex predator. Much less protect him.
Which is why the Jefferson thing is so important. When the Dems found wrongdoing, they acted. The Republicans covered it up. And we're not talking bribery here, but a child sex predator. Someone almost certain to do serious jail time.
It's not that they just endorsed the insanely unconstitutional torture bill, they protected a child sex predator. They haven't only abdicated their responsibilties as legislators, but as responsible humans. While they were speechifying about gay marriage and "cut and run" Democrats, they were protecting one of their own, a "hunt and rape" Republican. Mark Foley hunted children. We don't know if he raped them as well......yet.
Foley may not be the only one to resign in disgrace, nor should he be.
posted by Steve @ 3:03:00 AM