The Republican leaders of the House, Dennis Hastert and John Boehner, are going to end up taking the blame for the Foley caper because if they didn't know what Foley was saying to that page, they should have.
Here's why I say that:
Congressman Mark Foley was, according to the statement released by Hastert's office, under scrutiny by the office of Congressman Rodney Alexander, who represents the district the boy lived in, and Congressman Hastert in the fall of 2005. This scrutiny involved high-level staffers from the offices of both congressman, as well as the clerk of the House, who was the responsible House officer for the page program.
Chiefs of staff and lawyers from both offices went to the clerk's office to discuss the matter. The clerk wanted to see the e-mails. Congressman Alexander's office declined, citing privacy concerns of the family of the boy. The clerk asked if the e-mails were of a sexual nature. And the statement from Hastert's office says he was told they were not. Obviously not true.
The clerk then contacted Congressman Shimkus' office, who is chairman of the page board. Then the clerk and Shimkus met with Foley and asked him about the e-mail. Foley was asked to not contact the boy any further.
Now they say no one in Hastert's office was aware of the sexual nature of the e-mails until they appeared in the press.
I don't think that's good enough.
If a congressman is under investigation on the complaint of a minor, that congressman's leadership should know what it is about and, frankly, I don't think they would have involved all those people and taken the step of confronting Foley if they did not know what was in those e-mails. It doesn't make sense. You go after a congressman on the word of a minor and you don't know what it's about? Come on.
Did somebody think they could hide behavior like this until after an election? With Dems looking for anything to nail any Republican officeholder? Who could be that dumb?
Besides, had Hastert and Boehner given Foley the boot when they first heard of this, the congressperson who replaced him would be running strong for re-election.
As it is now, it's a disaster and that has to be the fault of the House leadership.
Step up, guys.
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