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GOP House page board chair may have helped cover-up Foley scandal

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1. Roll call reports that Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), who chairs the House page board, met with Foley in 2005 to investigate the creepy email exchange with the 16 year old page.

2. What was the extent of Shimkus' investigation of whether a member of Congress was soliciting sex with a minor, or at the very least bordering on sexually harassing a minor? Shimkus asked Foley if he was hitting on the kid, Foley said no, so Shimkus said "okay," and let it go. Obviously sex with children is a real big concern to the Republican house. Here's what Shimkus had to say tonight:

In that email exchange, Congressman Foley asked about the former Page's well-being after Hurricane Katrina and requested a photograph. When asked about the email exchange, Congressman Foley said he expressed concern about the Page's well-being and wanted a photo to see that the former Page was alright.
First off, nice that Shimkus, who according to the Associated Press wrote this statement with the help of GOP Speaker Denny Hastert's office, after avoiding reporters for hours, spins Foley's creepy emails to sound totally benign. In fact, Shimkus doesn't bother mentioning the most damning parts of the email exchange, Foley commenting on the underage kid's apparently underage friend's hot body, and also somewhat creepy, asking the kid for a picture and asking how old he is. I'm sure it was an oversight. Oh that's right, there is no oversight in the Republican house. You simply ask someone a question and believe whatever answer they give you, then the investigation is over.

Interesting that the pages now say they were routinely warned about Foley by their page overseers. Did Shimkus bother talking to the page overseers, or any of the pages, to find out what was up with Foley? How is it that in just 24 hours ABC was able to get a copy of Foley's sex-talk instant message chat with an underage page, yet Shimkus found nothing?

3. Shimkus never told the Democratic member of Congress who serves on the page board. Why?
Rep. Dale Kildee (D-Mich.), who serves on the page board, was never told of the interview with Foley.

"I became aware of it this afternoon when [Shimkus] came by my office. I think we should have had a page meeting right away," Kildee said, referring to last year's discovery of Foley's e-mails.

When asked if was upset about being excluded, Kildee said yes, adding, "I've been on the page board for 20 years."
4. More from Roll Call, "According to a senior House GOP leadership aide, Speaker Dennis Hastert's (R-Ill.) office was informed of the interview shortly after it occurred, but Hastert himself was not told." Right. A male Republican member of Congress is being investigated for possibly sexually harassing an underage male page and Denny Hastert's office is notified and nobody tells Hastert? Right. And the matter is considered so important that the Clerk of House gets involved and joins in the interview with Foley. Yet still no one tells Hastert. Uh huh.

5. We still don't know when the kid's congressman, Rodney Alexander (R-LA), was told about the incident, and what he did about it. He claims he found out from a reporter. But at the same time he says his staff found out when the kid contacted them and was creeped out. Which one was it? Did Alexander sit on the information until the press finally contacted him and he was forced to act?

6. What are the House procedures for dealing with an allegation of this kind? Simply to pass it to the Page Board, having Foley's own Republican peers investigate him? There are no House rules whatsoever about having someone independent look into whether a member of Congress sexually harassed a minor page? Here's what CREW has to say, per the AP story:
"The House of Representatives has an obligation to protect the teenagers who come to Congress to learn about the legislative process," the group wrote, adding that the committee "must investigate any allegation that a page has been subjected to sexual advances by members of the House."
7. So the Republicans are telling us that they never heard anything else about Foley in all the time he was in Congress. Very interesting. Because I certainly heard some rumors about Foley over the years, and when I got a copy of these emails several months ago, the rumors were not inconsistent. But to House Republicans, family value Republicans, this story wasn't important enough to even go beyond asking the perpetrator if he was really guilty.


Final update, perhaps. Nancy Pelosi introduced a resolution calling for an investigation. It passed, we hear, unanimously:
And late Friday night, the House passed a resolution directing the ethics committee to begin an inquiry into Foley's behavior. The committee has 10 days to report back to the House.

"I'll just simply say that the House has given us direction to look into this matter and we intend to do so," said Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), chairman of the ethics panel.

Ranking member Howard Berman (D-Calif.) added that they will do it "quickly."

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