WASHINGTON – Justice Department investigators have absolved former Arizona Rep. Jim Kolbe of wrongdoing in his relationships with House pages, Kolbe says.
In a statement Wednesday, Kolbe and his Washington lawyers said they received notice Tuesday that investigators had completed their work on the preliminary inquiry opened by federal prosecutors last fall, and saw no reason to pursue it further.
Prosecutors began looking into Kolbe's relationships with House pages after hearing reports that he took a Fourth of July camping trip to the Grand Canyon with two former pages and others in 1996.
The inquiry was launched amid a separate investigation into sexually explicit messages sent to high school-aged congressional pages by former Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., who resigned over the issue last fall.
"Yesterday's action by the Justice Department is powerful evidence that the allegations of wrongdoing were unfounded," said Kolbe, a Republican. "I am thankful for the department's objective review of this matter and glad to have finally put this issue to rest."
A Justice Department spokesman was not immediately available for comment.
Kolbe, who represented a Tucson-area district for 22 years, was the House's only openly gay Republican until he retired at the end of his term last year. He was pulled into the Foley scandal when he acknowledged a former page had complained in 2001 or 2002 about e-mails the page had received from Foley that made him feel uncomfortable.
Kolbe said at the time that he had referred the matter to the House clerk and that someone from his office had also talked to Foley about it.
A House ethics panel, which investigated the House leaders' handling of complaints about Foley, found in December that lawmakers and aides "failed to exercise appropriate diligence and oversight." The panel, however, said no rules had been broken and no one should be punished.
Kolbe, 64, is now a fellow at the German Marshall Fund think tank and a consultant at Kissinger McLarty Associates. He focuses on issues that were his priorities when he was in Congress — trade, aid and migration.