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Former Foley Aide Fordham Tells Ethics Panel His Side of Page Scandal

The former chief of staff for ex-Rep. Mark Foley testified under oath for much of Thursday afternoon, telling the House ethics committee investigating the Capitol Hill page scandal "his account of events" that led to the downfall of the disgraced former congressman.

Kirk Fordham, once Foley's top aide, was tight-lipped when he left the hearing room accompanied by his attorney, Tim Heaphy, who shed little light on what his client told the committee.

"Kirk has been forthcoming" with the investigators, Heaphy said, as Fordham stood silently behind him. "He has been consistent in his accounts of these events. ... He has been truthful and cooperative and will continue to be throughout this and other investigations."

Other than acknowledging that Fordham had testified under oath, Heaphy said investigators asked that they not share the substance of the inquiry.

"I'll be able to talk at some point," Fordham later told reporters before hopping into a cab with his attorney.

Fordham, however, likely recounted his efforts to bring attention to Foley's inappropriate actions. Fordham's story differs from top Republicans, including House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who have gone on record saying they didn't learn of any serious misdeeds until after Foley abruptly resigned from Congress almost two weeks ago.

Fordham, who was working as chief of staff for Rep. Tom Reynolds when the Foley scandal broke, later resigned and went public with allegations that he warned his superiors early on about Foley .

Fordham has said he told Hastert's chief of staff, Scott Palmer, about Foley's inappropriate behavior and attempts to contact pages in 2002 or 2003, but Palmer disputes that account.

Hastert's office has said the speaker didn't learn about any of the allegations until a year ago, when it heard of ambiguous, "overly friendly" e-mails to a former page. In the e-mails, Foley chatted with the former page about having taken a bicycle ride, and asked the teen what he wanted for his birthday.

The e-mails were much tamer than a series of sexually explicit computer instant messages turned up by news organizations after ABC News broke the story.

Before heading to Capitol Hill Thursday, Fordham told FOX News that the investigators had asked him to keep his remarks confidential but that he would be honest.

"I had a good night's sleep. I talked to my family and I'm going to tell the truth," he said.

Asked about Palmer's denials, Fordham said: "Scott and all the folks are friends of mine, so I really don't want to jeopardize the investigation by saying today."

Fordham had worked for Foley for 10 years until 2004, and then went to work for Reynolds. Fordham stepped down from that position, saying he didn't want to detract from Reynolds' campaign, which now has become competitive because of the broadening investigation.

Returning to Capitol Hill on Thursday, Fordham entered the room after noon, where he remained late into the afternoon.

Earlier in the day, the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct met with a West Virginia congresswoman who said she was in the dark about any improper messages from Foley to high school students even though she served on the page board responsible for their student service program.

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., a member of the House page board, which oversees the page program that brings 16- and 17-year-old high school students from around the country to Washington as congressional assistants and to learn about the legislative process.

After being questioned, Capito continued to assert she was not aware of Foley's activities.

"I'm a member of the page board who was not informed of the e-mail messages that were sent. I want the investigation to go forth quickly and reach a conclusion," she said. The issue also has become cannon fodder for her Democratic challenger in the Nov. 7 election.

She is one of three members of Congress who serve on the page board. Rep. Dale Kildee of Michigan is the lone Democrat on the page board and has said he was not told about Foley.

House Majority Leader John Boehner of Ohio also has been asked to testify, FOX News learned. He was expected to testify sometime next week.

A timeline provided by Hastert's office said that after learning of the overly friendly e-mails, the House clerk and House page board chief Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., confronted Foley about the e-mails. According to Hastert's office, Foley assured the two officials that there was nothing untoward about the e-mails to the boy. Nevertheless, Shimkus asked Foley to cease all contact.

Shimkus is scheduled to testify Friday.

At a recent news conference, the speaker said that Shimkus was following the wishes of the parents of the former page by not telling other page board members about it.

"I think Congressman Shimkus acted in an expedited manner to find out what happened, again with what the framework of what the family concern was," Hastert said.

Shimkus also said he did not inform the other board members because he was following the wishes of the boy's parents. The page was sponsored by Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-La., who is also expected to testify to the panel next week.

Alexander's chief of staff — also to appear before the panel — contacted Hastert's office in fall 2005 about the e-mails, but it is not clear yet if that was the only notification to the speaker's office.

Last spring, Alexander mentioned the Foley situation to Boehner. Alexander said Boehner referred him to Reynolds. Both Boehner and Reynolds said they spoke with Hastert, who says he cannot recall those conversations and raised questions about whether they occurred.

Boehner initially quoted Hastert as telling him the Louisiana page's complaint "had been taken care of."

The FBI is investigating whether any crimes were committed by Foley.

It is uncertain whether the Foley scandal will hurt Republican chances of retaining control of the House.

Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., said in Cape Girardeau that GOP leaders made a mistake in failing to take quick action to address Foley's conduct. She said the controversy and the public's frustration with the war in Iraq could make it difficult for the GOP to retain control.

"Today, I'd say we aren't going to hold it," she said in remarks quoted by the Southeast Missourian newspaper in Cape Girardeau.

But a new FOX News/Opinion Dynamics poll released Thursday shows the page scandal hasn't made much of an impact on what voters will do come November. Still, Democrats are maintaining an edge over their Republican counterparts by a 9-point margin.

Only 11 percent of voters said the Foley scandal will be extremely important to them when they cast their votes, but nearly 50 percent of voters said they saw the scandal as a broader pattern of power abuse in Washington rather than an isolated incident.

FOX News' Jim Mills and The Associated Press contributed to this report.