Monday, October 2, 2006

Congressman Foley, Child Pornography and official hypocracy

GOP Accused Of Covering Up Rep. Foley Scandal It was recently revealed that former Congressman Mark Foley (Republican of Florida) has been engaging in sexually explicit messaging with former pages. These Pages are generally high school juniors, hence around 16 years old, who come to Washington to serve as assistants to politicians. Since these messages have been revealed he has resigned, and reportadly entered into some kind of treatment program, hence he is now a former Congressman.

Especially amusing (shocking really) is that Foley was co-chair of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children and that Earlier this year President Bush signed legislation that Foley introduced to bolster penalties against sex offenders and increase efforts to target Internet predators as reported by Democracy Now (at the link above). That makes this another one of those strange twists of politics. He, as a Congressman, was active in legislation that would have penalized people like himself.

Who knew what when? is a blog entry based at the Houston Chronicle going over some of the conflicting claims. As was reported on Democracy Now, and in this blog entry, Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert initially said the House/Republican Leadership had not known about this stories. But the truth is that Rep. Tom Reynolds had told Hastert about the complaints. Which leads one to believe the House/Republican Leadership is trying to cover this up.

House speaker asks Gonzales to probe lurid Foley case gives a lot of interesting details. Hastert has written a letter to Attorney General Gonzalez asking for a very thorough investigation that can include members of Congress. However the article quotes an FBI spokesperson saying they'll have to review whether they can conduct an investigation. One should remember that Congresspeople are immune to prosecution over various sorts of crimes, for some reason, and for that matter there is an issue of separation of powers between the branches of government so how can the Administrative branch of government hold an investigation against people in the Legislative branch?

The article contains quotes from several, Democrats primarily, decrying the obvious cover-up. Rep. Christopher Shays, a Connecticut Republican, also called for an investigation of his party's leadership. "If they knew or should have known the extent of this problem, they should not serve in leadership," Shays said Sunday.

Rep. Foley was up for re-election and heavily favored to win. It would have been his seventh term. One possible theory is the Republican Leadership covered this up so they could retain the Republican seat .. e.g. let the news come out after the election so they know the seat is in Republican hands. As it is he has resigned, the Republicans in Florida are scrambling to find a replacement candidate. But a replacement candidate would have to be a write-in (presumably) and the history of write-in candidacies is very poor. So it looks like the Democratic challenger in this race has gotten a windfall.

How long did this coverup go on? The article says Majority Leader John Boehner of Ohio Boehner learned about allegations against Foley from Rep. Rodney Alexander, a Louisiana Republican, in the spring. So, um, that's about six months.

FBI to Examine Foley's E-Mails Covers more details. Along the lines of pondering just how long this cover-up has been going on, this article states most of the emails had been sent in 2003 and that an email sent in 2005 resulted in "a quiet warning to Foley to leave pages alone" and "the speaker did not dispute his colleague, and Hastert's office acknowledged that some aides knew last year that Foley had been ordered to cease contact with the youth". Hurm, since they knew something was up for over a year what's going on?

Especially troubling is it appears the normal procedure is to refer such cases to a three-member panel, but in this case they left it to the Chair of that panel to confront Foley directly.

The article quotes a former House page said that at a 2003 page reunion, he saw sexually suggestive e-mails Foley had sent to another former page who said at the time "If this gets out, it will destroy him". But, why would that person not publicize those emails? Why wait?

Especially creepy is this:

Foley was known as an exceedingly friendly House member to young pages, most of whom are 16- and 17-year-old high school juniors who come to Washington for an intensive, year-long civics lesson. Unlike most House members, he memorized their names and talked politics with them during lulls in late-night sessions. Foley was the only House member to attend the Class of 2002's graduation, according to McDonald, and he wore a tuxedo.

Elsewhere it's stated that Foley was unmarried. So, isn't this the stereotypical naughty man who preys on young boys for sex? Wouldn't such a person go out of their way to do things like memorize their names and show up at a graduation ceremony?

The GOP's State Of Denial starts off by saying that Foley's sexual preferences were an open secret.

The New York Times and every major newspaper in Florida had been writing articles on the congressman's agonizingly inept attempts to remain closeted for years. Indeed, it was the embarrassing manner in which he had attempted to cloak his sexuality that prevented Foley from securing his party's nomination for the U.S. Senate in 2004 and again this year.

But, if his sexual preferences were an open secret, was the open secret inclusive of his fondness for young men?

Foley interest in pages seen in speeches Details excerpts from some of his speeches that illuminates his special interest in the Pages.

Analysis: What did GOP know about Foley?: Is an analysis of the effects of this revelation, including a rundown of the congress races that are probably affected. Factoid: Democrats need to gain 15 House seats and six in the Senate for control after a dozen years of Republican rule.

These are:

  • Mark Foley versus challenger Tim Mahoney: Obviously this is a seat that's very likely to be lost to the Democratic Party. The Republicans have chosen a replacement candidate, state Rep. Joe Negron.
  • Rep. Tom Reynolds versus challenger against Jack Davis: He played a role in the cover-up and he is up for re-election this year. The race has been "close" for months, so obviously this issue could easily tip the race.
  • Rep. Deborah Pryce: Is said to be "facing questions" and is part of the House Leadership.
  • Hastert, Boehner and others in leadership but not in close races, the ramifications could spread beyond November and into House leadership elections should Republicans hold the House

And a bit of history:

Three decades ago, Republican Richard M. Nixon was dogged by the question of what did the president know about the break-in of Democratic headquarters at the Watergate and when did he know it.

In November 1974, Democrats capitalized on the scandal, seizing scores of congressional seats as the Watergate class swept to office.