Vanity Fair‘s Mark Foley Page-Turner

Vanity Fair digs into the Mark Foley saga, providing a vivid timeline of events that led up to the congressman’s downfall, as well as the damage control attempted by those around him, particularly Jeff Trandahl and Kirk Fordham. Foley’s boozed up trips to the page dorm were one of the first real breaking points:


Around 2003, Fordham recalls, he took a call from Jeff Trandahl, then clerk of the House: “We have a problem The congressman showed up at the page dorm last night. He appeared to have been drinking, and he was turned away at the door.” Fordham remembers agonizing with Trandahl over what to do about this overt display of uncontrolled behavior. Obviously his mild warnings to Foley were not having an impact.

And the moment that everything came unhinged:

After Kello had read Fordham only a few lines, Fordham cried, “Stop! That’s all I need to know!” He heard female campaign workers weeping on the other end of the phone. When he hung up, he says he saw Foley, who was joining him on the patio, looking scared. Fordham told him the news.
“Are those instant messages authentic?” he asked Foley, who turned away, mortified.
When Foley looked back, he said, “Probably.”
“Yeah, I’m sure they’re real,” said Foley.
Nicolson joined them. “Liz, I’ve been stupid,” said the congressman.
“Mark, I don’t know how you can go on in this race,” said Fordham. “Do you really want to spend the next 40 days of the campaign running around your district explaining sexually explicit e-mails to pages to your constituents?”


Fordham thought he made it clear that his old boss needed to quit, but Foley couldn’t bring himself to do that. The N.R.C.C. headquarters was around the corner, and Fordham made it his next stop. There he found Representative Reynolds and Speaker Hastert. But before he could finish relaying the awful news, Reynolds’s face got purple and he began to shout, “He needs to resign, and he needs to do it right now!” The Speaker just sat there, silent, according to Fordham: “He didn’t react at all. This was weeks before the election, and they’re thinking how this is going to impact us.”

The gist of the juicy piece is that Foley was a ticking time bomb: “Everyone knew Mark Foley was gay. Everyone. And everyone who had a stake in his success—party, press, parents, staff, supporters, and pages—conspired for their own purposes to keep the closet half closed.”

Don’t Ask, Don’t Email [vanity fair]

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  1. says

    The whole Mark Foley saga shows the corrosive effects of the closet, the lies that political leaders will tell to remain in power and the lengths that congressional staff and the media will go to to protect their access to political power. Foley’s sexual orientation was a secret to no one. His appalling behavior towards teenaged pages was also apparently known.

    I have some sympathy for Foley because of the death of his father, but I do not in any way have sympathy or understanding for the heinous actions that he took. Gay kids are coming out everyday day 13, 14, 15 years old and we are expected to believe that a wealthy white man with political power was unable to be open about being gay?

  2. gay is the new straight says

    Foley was my congressman and good lord, we knew so long ago, thought it was not a secret that he likes em young. Not that there is anything wrong with that except when you are the EMPLOYER! Let’s out them all.

  3. Leland says

    In the same way I don’t confuse a broken clock with a thing to be celebrated simply because it is right twice a day, neither should anyone start building any statues to Kirk Fordham however many things he might have done right vis-a-vis Foley. Out of the closet or not, he is still, as he has always been, an active, willing, and eager cog in the ruthless antigay industry machine. He helped run the rabidly antigay campaign of Mel Martinez, who was eventually issued his biggest club yet as the new Repug Head Thug. Most recently he has worked for Repug NY Cong. Tom Reynolds who voted for the Constitutional amendment barring same gender marriage; voted against allowing gays to adopt in the District of Columbia, and has a 7% rating by the ACLU, indicating an anti-civil rights voting record generally. He voted against allowing needle exchange and medical marijuana in the District which both help prevent the spread of AIDS and treat its symptoms. He is rated at 0% by the APHA, indicating a anti-public health voting record generally. He has an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association, and votes consistently a right wing agenda relative to a woman’s right to choose. He is rated 7% by the AFL-CIO, indicating an anti-labor voting record.The man is a troglodyte and Fordham has been his, and others, sieg heiling Kapo. As such, he is as mentally disturbed in his own way as Foley is in his.

  4. Robert says

    Leland, nearly one in four gay people are or have been Republican. Your trying to link other political issues, like gun control, drugs, etc. is just political bullsh!t. Would you like the USA to become like Iran, where gay boys are hanged? People like you always condemn the USA, but never seem the beam in the eye of the other side.

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