Investigations Begin into Cover-up Surrounding Mark Foley:
Republican Leaders Knew of Misdeeds for Five Years, Did Nothing

Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL): “If I were one of these sickos, I’d be nervous with America’s Most Wanted on my trail.”

Preliminary investigations by the FBI began into whether or not Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) broke any federal laws in his email and IM exchanges with congressional pages. It was widely thought that a full investigation would be launched. At the same time, House Speaker Dennis Hastert requested that the Justice Department look into the Foley matter and also determine who knew what about Foley’s inappropriate communications and when they knew it. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi asked for sworn testimony before the Ethics Committee by Republican leaders involved in the case.

It was also revealed over the weekend that a Republican staff member warned pages about Foley in 2001, telling them, “don’t get too wrapped up in him being too nice to you and all that kind of stuff.”

This morning, Foley’s attorney announced that the embattled Congressman checked himself into an alcohol rehab facility over the weekend and released a statement. Said Foley: “I strongly believe that I am an alcoholic and have accepted the need for immediate treatment for alcoholism and other behavioral problems. I deeply regret and accept full responsibility for the harm I have caused.”

Think Progress has a comprehensive Foley Coverup Timeline

House Republicans learned of communications between Rep. Mark Foley and the 16-year-old male page in the fall of 2005, but chose not to act. In fact, the GOP Chairman of the House Page Board, John Shimkus (R-Ill.), when discussing Foley’s activities with other board members, deliberately excluded the sole Democrat member of that board from learning about Foley’s misdeeds.

Boehner_hastertRoll Call: “At least four Republican House Members, one senior GOP aide and a former top officer of the House were aware of the allegations about Foley that prompted the initial reporting regarding his e-mail contacts with a 16-year-old House page. They include: Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds (N.Y.) and Reps. Rodney Alexander (R-La.) and John Shimkus (R-Ill.), as well as a senior aide to Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and former Clerk of the House Jeff Trandahl.”

Top House Republicans had a responsibility to act, and knew there was something to investigate, but instead were prepared to adjourn Congress with no discussion or Ethics Committee investigation. Big surprise.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) demanded an investigation: “”The investigation must determine when Mr. Foley sent the inappropriate emails, who knew of them, whether there was a pattern of inappropriate activity by Mr. Foley with pages or former pages, when the Republican leadership was notified, and what corrective action was taken once officials learned of any improper activity.”

Reynolds issued a statement Saturday that he informed House Speaker Dennis Hastert about the contact between Foley and the 16-year-old page. Said Reynolds:

“Rodney Alexander brought to my attention the existence of e-mails between Mark Foley and a former page of Mr. [Rodney Alexander’s (R-La.)]. Despite the fact that I had not seen the e-mails in question, and Mr. Alexander told me that the parents didn’t want the matter pursued, I told the Speaker of the conversation Mr. Alexander had with me. Mr. Alexander has also said he took the matter to the Clerk of the House. An investigation was then conducted by the Clerk and [Illinois GOP Rep.] John Shimkus on behalf of the House Page Board. Mark Foley betrayed the integrity of this institution as well as the trust of his colleagues and constituents. There is no excuse, and he needs to be held accountable.”

Dale Kildee (D-MI), the sole Democrat on the board, and a member of the Page Board for 20 years, issued a statement in response:

“As the Democratic Member of the House Page Board, any statement by Mr. Reynolds or anyone else that the House Page Board ever investigated Mr. Foley is completely untrue. I was never informed of the allegations about Mr. Foley’s inappropriate communications with a House Page and I was never involved in any inquiry into this matter. The first and only meeting of the House Page Board on this matter occurred on Friday, September 29 at approximately 6 p.m., after the allegations about Mr. Foley had become public.”

Hastert’s office issued a statement Saturday that admitted he had heard of the emails in the fall of ’05 but insisted that he was only aware the emails were “over-friendly.”

What this case really requires is an independent counsel who can sort out the facts of who knew what, and when, since there appears to be a lot of scrambling to get stories straight. It looks like that is what it will soon be getting.

In other developments, it was revealed that some interesting amounts of cash changed hands in early 2006.

The really sick thing about this whole series of events is the hypocrisy. Even while signing the Adam Walsh Child Protection Act of 2006 into law, they knew that one of their own, the co-chair of the Committee for Missing and Exploited Children, was himself a predator. And they did nothing.

Glenn Greenwald sums it up well in a post that includes some statements from our leaders on the importance of monitoring and convicting sexual predators:

“Republicans decided in this bill that the “minors” we have to protect from predatory behavior on the Internet means anyone under the age of 18 years. Yet self-evidently lurid and sexually suggestive emails sent by a leading GOP Congressman to a 16-year-old page certainly didn’t seem to move them to do very much — other than work to conceal the behavior so that the predator could remain in Congress, surrounded by other vulnerable American children sent to Washington, D.C. by their parents.”

road.jpg The Rough Riders
road.jpg Newt Gingrich on the Republican response to the emails: “Well, you could have second thoughts about it, but I think had they overly aggressively reacted to the initial round, they would have also been accused of gay bashing.”

Political Page Turner: Rep. Mark Foley Resigns Seat Over Inappropriate Emails [tr]
Male Page and Rep Mark Foley in Troubling Email Exchange [tr]