Sunday, October 01, 2006

Is this your favorite cover-up?

The New York Times reports that “Top House Republicans knew for months about e-mail traffic between Representative Mark Foley (R-FL) and a former teenage page, but kept the matter secret and allowed Mr. Foley to remain head of a Congressional caucus on children’s issues, Republican lawmakers said Saturday.”

In case you have not had the stomach to follow this scandal, the Republican congressman discussed in internet chats with a teenage page his favorite positions for masturbating, his desire to undress the page, and his opinion that the mental image of the lad masturbating was a “nice visual.” The entire transcript is definitely NOT for the faint-of-heart.

Representative John A. Boehner (pronounced “Bayner”) the leader of the Republican majority, and Representative Thomas M. Reynolds of New York, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, are among the high ranking Republicans who knew about their perverted colleague’s inappropriate interaction. Mr. Reynolds said in a statement Saturday that he had also personally raised the issue with Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Republican of Illinois. Hastert says he doesn't remember this!

Over on Talking Points Memo, Joshua Micah Marshall cites to Roll Call which reports that “Chairman of the House Page Board, Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) interviewed Foley last year about some of the contacts with the page. The House clerk, who is also a member of the Board, was also present. Speaker Hastert’s office was informed of the interview, but according to GOP leadership sources who spoke to Roll Call, Hastert himself was not informed” unless of course someone in Speaker Hastert’s office might have mentioned it to him.

If it seems like I am picking on Republicans, that might be because Rep. Dale Kildee (D-MI), the only Democrat on the Board, was not informed of the interview, according to Roll Call.

The money shot of the whole sordid event is reported by Josh Marshal here:
Finally, one detail here isn’t getting enough attention. Rep. Alexander (R-LA), [was] the first member of Congress to be alerted to the problem, [because the predator-Republican’s victim was a constituent. Alexander] says he contacted the NRCC. That’s the House Republicans’ election committee, a political organization entirely separate from the House bureaucracy and the Congress. (The head of the NRCC this cycle is Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-NY).) That is, to put it mildly, not in the disciplinary and administrative chain of command of the House of Representatives. Considering that the issue involved a minor, it seems highly inappropriate to discuss the matter with anyone not charged with policing the House. More to the point, however, you tell the head of the NRCC because you see the matter as a political problem. Reynolds is the one in charge of making sure Republican House seats get held. If an incumbent might have drop out or be kicked out you want him to know so that he can line up someone to replace him. You at least want to keep him abreast of the situation if you think a problem might develop. I cannot see any innocent explanation for notifying the head of the NRCC while not information the full membership of the page board.
This story if far from over.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

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