The story about just what the House GOP leadership knew about Mark Foley's online sexual exploits, and when they knew it, is getting more and more contradictory by the minute.
Earlier today, ABC reported that the 16 year old page who received Foley's creepy emails last year had forwarded the emails to "congressional staffers," telling them "this freaked me out" and the emails were "sick sick sick sick sick." Which staffers? With whose office? Who did those staffers then tell about the emails, and what did those people do, if anything about it? Okay, update, it was Alexander's staffers - so, what, they didn't tell their boss that one of their own underage pages, a constituent, mind you, might have been sexually harassed by another congressman? Oh bull.
Alexander said the boy notified a staffer in his office about the e-mails. The congressman said he learned of it from a reporter 10 or 11 months ago and promptly called the boy's parents.Then later today, an Associated Press article on the SF Chronicle's website reported that the kid's congressman, Rodney Alexander (R-LA), found out about the story ten or eleven months ago and contacted the kid's parents and the House GOP leadership. Alexander said that the kid's parents wanted to let the matter drop. What did Alexander tell the parents, and did that influence their deciding to let it go? Who else did Alexander tell about this? Why didn't he take further action since he knew Foley would continue interacting with pages, continued to chair the House caucus on missing and exploited children, and that Foley continued to remain in the House leadership?
The Associated Press now has an updated story saying that Rep. Alexander now says he found out about the allegations "some months ago" from a reporter. Bull, it sounds more like he found out from his staff, did nothing, then found out from a reporter and didn't have a choice but to act. When did the kid email the staff, and when did the reporter contact the congressman - how much time lagged in between?
Another odd point. In the earlier story, Alexander says he told the House leadership about the incident. Now, in the updated story, Alexander says that he passed the information along to Rep. Thomas Reynolds, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Republican campaign organization (perhaps that's what he means by "leadership," or perhaps he's changing his story to protect Hastert). It's a bit odd that he'd report this to Reynolds, since Reynolds is in charge of re-electing Republicans to congress. Why tell him? Was this an effort to help Foley find a way to defend against these charges should they come up during his next election? And in any case, we're to believe that Reynolds didn't tell Hastert about this?
Now the AP reports the following from the GOP campaign group run by Reynolds:
Carl Forti, a spokesman for the GOP campaign organization, said Reynolds learned from Alexander that the parents did not want to pursue the matter. Forti said, however, that the matter did go before the House Page Board — the three lawmakers and two House officials who oversee the pages.It went before the page board? But only today Denny Haster asked the people overseeing the pages, specifically Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., who runs the page board, to investigate the situation and make sure other pages weren't harassed or abused. There would be no need for Hastert to ask them today to investigate if this if the same page board that had already been notified months ago by Reynolds. Are we to believe the page board didn't tell the speaker that they were looking into a member who may have been soliciting sex with underage pages? And that this is the first time Denny Hastert heard of this? Not to mention, the page board already did their review, so why ask them to do it again, pretending like it's the first time?
So what's going on here? The page board also includes the Clerk of the House and the Sergeant at Arms, both Republican appointees. Did they know about this months ago or not? Did they do anything about this? Did they tell the speaker or anyone else in the House?
ABC said tonight that pages said they were warned about Foley and his antics. Really? But Foley was still left to interact with pages, still left in his leadership spot, and still left chairing a caucus overseeing the issue of missing and exploited children. If Foley was this well known a problem, what exactly did or didn't the page board do about it? Who did they tell, and what did those people do?
This goes far beyond Mark Foley. It now seems to involve quite a few senior Republicans. Why didn't any of them do something about this earlier? Or does the sexual exploitation of children only matter when there's not a big R in front of the exploiter's name?