Hastert Will Fire, But Not Resign
The House Ethics Committee has opened its investigation into the scandal over Congressman Mark Foley, a Florida Republican who resigned when sexual instant messages he sent to former Congressional pages surfaced. Speaker Denny Hastert, an Illinois Republican, who has been implicated in the cover-up, has refused to resign his post even as his party loses its grip on its majority. Hastert has said that anyone who knew about Foley’s misdeeds and covered it up will be fired. Additional developments during the past week follow.
Gay Aide Warned Leadership in 2003 about Foley
Kirk Fordham, an out gay man who was Foley’s chief of staff and went on to do the same job for upstate Republican Tom Reynolds before resigning last week over the scandal, said he told Speaker Hastert’s chief of staff, Scott Palmer, about his concerns over Foley’s behavior with pages several years ago. Palmer denied Fordham’s account, The New York Times reported. Fordham said he made the report to Palmer at the urging of Jeff Trandahl, the House clerk, who resigned his post last year.
Rep. Reynolds Rapped
Congressman Reynolds, the Republican who represents suburban Buffalo and now finds himself at the center of the Foley scandal, was once known as “Mr. Clout,” riding high as the chairman of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee. While he easily beat Democratic businessman Jack Davis 56-44 in 2004, Reynolds now trails in the Zogby poll by a 48-33 margin.
Reynolds was made aware of the “over friendly” Foley e-mails five months ago and claims to have passed on his concerns to Speaker Hastert, a contention the Illinois Republican denies.
Reynolds is trying to dig himself out by apologizing in a campaign TV ad, saying, “Looking back, more should have been done.” But he has been avoiding the press like many Republicans linked to the scandal.
Davis is running an ad stating that Reynolds knew that Foley “was a predator going after a 16-year-old boy. Reynolds knew of Foley’s e-mails. What did he do? Tom Reynolds urged Foley to seek re-election.”
Foley is said to have told House leaders that he didn’t want to run for re-election in 2004 in order to seek the post as director of the Motion Picture Association of America to fulfill his desire to go Hollywood. But he let the party talk him into another term for what was then a safe Republican district in and around Palm Beach.
Jim Kolbe Reported Foley E-Mails in 2000
Jim Kolbe of Arizona, the only out Republican member of Congress, passed along complaints about inappropriate e-mails from Foley to a former page in 2000 to the clerk in charge of the page program, though he told the Arizona Republic he “was not shown the content of the messages and was not told they were sexually explicit.” He said he did not confront Foley about them.
“I assume e-mail contact ceased since the former page never raised an issue again with my office,” he told the newspaper.
Raul Grijalva, an Arizona Democratic representative, said Kolbe should have taken the information to the House leadership.
Kolbe himself was a page for Senator Barry Goldwater in 1958.
While Foley sent suggestive and salacious e-mails and IMs to many ex-pages over the years, just one has come forward to say that he actually had sex with him. The 21-year old told the Los Angeles Times of the 2000 encounter. One of the IMs from Foley to the page said, “I always thought you were gay. I always knew you were a player, but I don’t fool around with pages.” Foley’s MO was to wait until the pages left the program and then to start hitting on them.
Bloomberg Boost to GOP House
While polls show Republicans losing control of the House due to the Foley scandal, the Iraq War, and other factors, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is trying to help keep it in GOP hands. He is sponsoring a fundraiser at his East Side townhouse this coming week for Representative John Sweeney of upstate New York who is in a tight race for re-election. House Speaker Hastert was scheduled to appear at the Bloomberg party, but cancelled. In the wake of the Foley scandal, most House Republicans are reluctant to be seen with their leader.
Gay Blogger Attacks Gay GOP Staffers
Mike Rogers, who has been going after gay and closeted Republican House members and staffers on his Blogactive.com Web site for the past several years, is now asking the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct to investigate Thomas Bowman, a staff secretary at the White House.
“Is this closeted gay man part of a huge cover-up that put 16-year-olds in danger? Clearly, Mr. Bowman has a vested interest in helping the administration protect men like Mark Foley so the majority may maintain power.”
Rogers also went after Edward Schrock, staff director for the House Committee on Government Reform, asking whether he was involved in the cover-up or ever approached male pages. Schrock did not run for re-election to Congress in 2004 after Rogers exposed the fact that the conservative, anti-gay Virginian had recorded an ad on a gay sex phone line seeking partners.
In addition, Rogers is seeking an investigation of two “anti-gay men who themselves are closeted in government,” Sam Lancaster, director of operations for House Speaker Hastert, and Pete Meachum, chief of staff for Representative Ginny Brown-Waite of Florida, whom he calls a “homophobe.”
Rogers has been all over cable TV this week defending his campaign against gay and closeted men working for anti-gay Republicans, including appearances on Fox’s “O’Reilly Factor,” CNN’s “Nancy Grace,” and MSNBC’s Tucker Carlson program.
Conservative: Republicans Hate Evangelicals
In the wake of the Foley scandal, conservative pundit Tucker Carlson told Chris Matthews on MSNBC, “The deep truth is that the elites in the Republican Party have pure contempt for the evangelicals who put their party in power.” Challenged by Matthews on how he knew this, Carlson said, “Because I live in Washington and I know that everybody in our world has contempt for the evangelicals. And the evangelicals know that, and they’re beginning to learn that their own leaders sort of look askance at them and don’t share their values.”
Carlson then called the proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage—dearly sought by evangelicals and blocked in Congress—“pandering to the base in the most cynical way and the base is beginning to figure it out.”
Right Wing Suggests Homosexual Conspiracy
Tony Perkins, president of the right-wing Family Research Council, is insinuating that the Foley scandal was covered up by a gay cabal, a theme picked up by some mainstream outlets. On his Web site, Perkins, who did not star in the original (Hitchcock) version of “Psycho,” though perhaps wishes he did, wrote, “Sunday’s New York Times revealed that a homosexual former clerk of the House of Representatives, Jeff Trandahl, was ‘among the first to learn’ of Foley’s messages to pages. The clerk’s job is described as a ‘powerful post with oversight of hundreds of staffers and the page program.’ This raises yet another plausible question for values voters—has the social agenda of the GOP been stalled by homosexual members and/or staffers?”
Cliff Kinkaid of the right-wing Accuracy in Media wrote that “the secret Capital Hill homosexual network must be exposed and dismantled,” the Chicago Tribune reported.
Out Representative Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat, told The Advocate, “There could be a real purge of gays in the Republican Party now. It is probably just enough for people to be perceived to be gay.”
Barney Beau to Foley: Get a Real Date
Congressman Frank also told The Advocate, “Once at a Congressional Christmas party at the White House, my ex-boyfriend Herb went up to Foley, who was with a female date, and said to him, ‘Why don’t you get a real date?’ Foley didn’t say anything.”
Frank also predicted that Democrats would take back the House, in part due to this scandal.
Harper’s Passed on Foley Story in May
Ken Silverstein of Harper’s magazine wrote this week that far from being an “October Surprise” engineered by Democrats, the Foley story was “leaked by a Republican office” to a Democratic operative in the spring and on to him and to other media outlets. Silverstein contacted Foley about the e-mails to a Louisiana former page asking, “Why would a middle-aged man ask a teenager he barely knew for his photograph, or what he wanted for his birthday?”
Silverstein wrote that Foley “strongly denied any ill intent.” He was unable to get that page to comment for the story, but did talk to another one who said Foley tried to get him and another page to go to the gym with him, an offer they turned down.
“We decided against publishing the story because we didn’t have absolute proof that Foley was, as one editor put it, ‘anything but creepy.’”
Sean Strub Worked with Foley in 1982
Gay and AIDS activist Sean Strub, founder of POZ magazine, had a job working with Mark Foley in 1982 in the unsuccessful campaign of Dennis Kohler to win a House seat from Lake Worth, Florida. Strub, who was out to Kohler, told the Palm Beach Post, that Foley told him he was “bisexual,” but, “I figured it out pretty quickly. He was closeted.”
Strub said that they remained friends and, the newspaper wrote, “he had no interest in exposing Foley over all these years,” saying that the Republican congressman “wanted to be a constructive influence on the epidemic.” Strub also said that when his own AIDS was at its worst, “Mark was compassionate and not afraid of me, like so many others were.”
Gay Libertarians: Foley Did No Wrong
The group Stonewall Libertarians has issued a release saying that “in Washington, DC, where the age of consent is 16, Rep. Foley could have had consensual sex with those male pages without committing any crime. Written communications with male pages who registered on Mark Foley’s gaydar screen shouldn’t be turned into a shameful or immoral act.” The FBI is investigating Foley’s actions to determine if any laws were violated.