WASHINGTON – The House Ethics Committee found no evidence that rules were broken but Republican leaders could have done a better job in investigating allegations that former Rep. Mark Foley made improper contact with Capitol Hill male pages.
The panel's report, released on Friday, recommended a review of the page program, regular meetings of the page board and a closer review of allegations.
The report also cited a pattern of conduct "to remain willfully ignorant of the potential consequences" of the former congressman's conduct.
Foley abruptly resigned from Congress in late September and entered an alcohol rehabilitation center in Florida after explicit e-mails and computer instant messages surfaced with congressional male pages.
"I am hopeful that there will be a renewed determination on the part of everyone here in the House to spare no effort when it comes to ensuring the safety of the young men and women from all over the country who serve us as our congressional pages," Hastings said at a press conference.
The four-member investigative panel released the report, but did not take any questions from reporters.
The former congressman represented the West Palm Beach district for 12 years and was seeking re-election at the time of his resignation.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert and other witnesses testified before the committee during the investigation. Hastert urged members of the ethics panel to work quickly on the investigation after testifying before them in late October.
"I asked the committee to do this tough job promptly, and they have. I thank them for their diligent and hard work in preparing a thorough and final report," Hastert said in a statement. "I encourage the 110th Congress to take whatever action is necessary to improve the protection of pages."
Hastert has said he first learned of Foley's inappropriate e-mails to a former Louisiana page — and sexually explicit e-mails to another page — when the scandal became public and Foley stepped down.
Some Republicans leaders overlooked the seriousness of the issue, the report found.
"Like too many others, neither the Majority Leader (John Boehner) nor Rep. (Tom) Reynolds showed any curiosity regarding why a young former page would have been made uncomfortable by e-mails from Rep. Foley," according to the report.
House Majority Leader John Boehner of Ohio, and House Republican campaign chief Tom Reynolds of New York said they told Hastert about Foley last spring. Hastert said he can’t remember those conversations.
The panel's report said Hastert testified he didn't remember being notified of the e-mails before Foley stepped down, but statements from some witnesses show he "may have been aware of the matter and believed it had been taken care of prior to spring 2006."
"The Investigative Subcommittee finds that the weight of the evidence supports the conclusion that Speaker Hastert was told, at least in passing, about the e-mails" by Boehner and Reynolds in spring 2006.
Hastert’s deputy chief of staff, Mike Stokke, also testified before the panel.
Reps. Judy Biggert, R-Ill., and Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-Ohio, were the other two members on the panel.
FOX News' Molly Hooper and The Associated Press contributed to this report.