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Archive for Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Lawmakers contacting ex-pages as ethics panel ramps up probe

October 10, 2006

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— Lawmakers, following a request from the House ethics committee, are surveying aides and former House pages to find out whether any of them had knowledge of ex-Rep. Mark Foley's inappropriate conduct toward male pages.

The ethics committee leaders, in a letter to all House members, asked them to contact current and former pages they sponsored to learn whether any of them had "inappropriate communications or interactions" with Foley or any other House member.

Aides to House members reported Monday that most pages contacted were not aware of inappropriate behavior from Foley, any other lawmaker or staff members.

The ethics panel, formally known as the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, also directed lawmakers to cast a wide net and ask aides what they might have heard about improper approaches by Foley or others to pages before revelations about his sexually explicit Internet messages surfaced last month. Foley resigned Sept. 29.

Meanwhile, the lawyer for Kirk Fordham, Foley's former chief of staff, said Monday his client could testify before the committee as early as this week. Fordham has said he informed House Speaker Dennis Hastert's staff in 2003 about Foley's inappropriate messages to pages.

There are other instances in which Foley was said to have been confronted years ago with complaints about his behavior regarding pages.

In 2000 or 2001, Foley was approached by Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., or someone in Kolbe's office about what were described as "creepy" e-mails to a page, Korenna Cline, Kolbe's press secretary, said Monday.

Cline said the page had come to Kolbe's office with e-mails that were described as making the page uncomfortable.

Kolbe is the only openly gay Republican now serving in Congress. He is retiring at the end of this year.

In a CBS News-New York Times poll released Monday, four in five respondents said GOP leaders were more concerned with politics than with the well-being of the congressional pages. Nearly half of those polled, 46 percent, said Hastert should step down, while 26 percent said he shouldn't.

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