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Foley Scandal – What We Know Now and Who Should Resign and Why

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In the wake of Florida Congressman Mark Foley's resignation in disgrace for predatory acts toward teenage boys, there have been daily revelations concerning additional disgusting acts perpetrated by the former congressman. There have also been daily disclosures of the prior knowledge and culpability of growing numbers of Republican congressmen including members of the Republican congressional leadership.

At the top, on Thursday, Oct 5, Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert went on the offensive, calling a news conference and vowing defiantly that he would not resign as a result of his role in the scandal. As reported on October 6th by Jeff Zeleny of the NY Times, "he made it clear that he did not intend to become a casualty of the Mark Foley scandal, saying he expected to win re-election to his seat and run for speaker again when the new Congress convenes in January."

Hastert has maintained that he only recently, meaning in the last two weeks, learned of the problems with Mark Foley's behavior. However, interspersed with various other new information coming out daily regarding the scandal, new information arrives citing much earlier dates on which people say they informed Hastert about Foley's activities. For instance:

House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Thomas M. Reynolds (R-N.Y.) both indicate they spoke with Hastert about Foley's problems this past spring.

According to an article in today's Washington Post by Jonathan Weisman, Foley's one time Chief of Staff, Kirk Fordham said he appealed to Hastert's current Chief of Staff, Scott Palmer back in 2003 or before to get Hastert to deal with Foley's behavior after Fordham said he had confronted Foley and failed to achieve any results.

According to Weisman's article "Fordham said Foley and Palmer, one of the most powerful figures in the House of Representatives, met within days to discuss the allegations . . . Palmer said this week that the meeting Fordham described "did not happen." Timothy J. Heaphy, Fordham's attorney, said yesterday that Fordham is prepared to testify under oath that he had arranged the meeting and that both Foley and Palmer told him the meeting had taken place. Fordham spent more than three hours with the FBI on Thursday, and Heaphy said that on Friday he contacted the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct to offer his client's cooperation."

Who Should Resign

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.)
At a minimum, according to other Republican congressmen, Speaker Hastert knew of the issues with Rep. Mark Foley ten months before the scandal came to the public's attention. His office was involved with Foley's problems at least as far back as 2003. It is hard to believe that Speaker Hastert's 'office' and 'staff' did not keep the speaker apprised of what was happening. As this is not a small matter, I believe his aides informed the Speaker and that Speaker Hastert has known about Foley's issues for years and protected him out of friendship and to protect a Republican seat instead of protecting the vulnerable and teenaged pages.

House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio)
By his own admission, Majority Leader Boehner has known about Foley's problems for approximately half a year. At the least he did not take strong enough actions and did not appropriately follow-up on actions he took.

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Thomas M. Reynolds (R-N.Y.)
As with Rep. Boehner, Chairman Reynolds has known about Congressman Foley's activities and did not do enough to protect the pages. Rep. Reynolds launched a television ad campaign apologizing to NY voters and trying to prevent the issue from impacting his reelection.

Rep. John M. Shimkus (R-Ill.) Head of the House Page Board
Hastert says 'his office' sent Rep. John M. Shimkus (R-Ill.) and the clerk of the House in November 2005 to confront Foley about troubling e-mails he had sent to a Louisiana boy. As head of the house page board, it was Rep. Shimkus responsibility to intervene in any issues where members of the House were mistreating pages. Rep. Shimkus should have followed up and made sure any issues were resolved and kept Hastert's office informed. We do not know if he did the latter, but as to the former, we can see he failed in his duties miserably.

As I indicated at the beginning of this article, every day since this scandal broke, more information has come out. I do not believe my list of those who should resign is complete. As we get more information, it seems to me that we will learn of more Republican congressmen and more of the House Republican Leadership that have known about Foley's problems and did not take appropriate action thus allowing Foley's activities to continue. All of those who fall into this category should resign. Nor is this the only problem confronting Republicans this election cycle. The combined weight of the Foley scandal, the Abramoff Scandal, failures in Iraq and Afghanistan and a general impression that Republicans have abused their time in control of congress (not to mention the rest of the government) will likely mean the end of this era of Republican Majority.
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A political blogger for the International Business Times, Steve Leser is a hot national political pundit. He has appeared on MSNBC's Coundown with Keith Olbermann, Comedy Central's Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Russia Today's (RT) Crosstalk with (more...)
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