TV & Radio
Posted on Sun, Oct. 08, 2006
Foley case upsets tough balance by Capitol Hill’s gay Republicans
The New York Times
WASHINGTON — For gay Republicans in political Washington, reconciling their private lives and public roles has required a discreet, heads-down existence. But in the past week, the Mark Foley scandal has upset that careful balance.
Since the Floridian resigned his House seat over sending sexually explicit electronic messages to male pages, gay Republicans here have been under what one describes as “siege and suspicion.”
Some conservative groups blamed the episode on the “gay lifestyle” and the gathering force of the “gay agenda.” Others equated homosexuality with pedophilia, a false link that has long outraged gay men and lesbians.
Conservative blogs and Web sites pointed out that gay staff members played principal roles in investigating the Foley case, suggesting the party was betrayed by gay men trying to hide misconduct by one of their own.
Some gay activists even began circulating a document known as “The List,” a roster of gay congressional staff members and their Republican bosses.
“You can see where it would be easy for some people to blame gays for something that might bring down the party in Congress,” said Brian Bennett, a gay Republican political consultant. He was a longtime chief of staff to former Rep. Robert K. Dornan, R-Calif., who regularly referred to gays as “Sodomites.”
The presence of homosexuals, particularly gay men, in key staff positions has been an enduring if largely hidden staple of Republican life for decades, and particularly in recent years. They have played decisive roles in passing legislation, running campaigns and advancing careers.
Some have suggested the leadership’s response to Foley was borne of a squeamishness in dealing with a so-called gay issue. As the blame from the Foley case has been parceled out in recent days, some Republican staff members worried that any gay men caught up in the scandal would be treated unfairly.
“I’m just waiting for someone in a position of authority to make this a gay issue,” Bennett said of the Foley incident.
Gay members of both parties describe the Foley scandal as something that could jeopardize the role that gay men and lesbians have assumed in Republican politics.
One gay Republican campaign strategist said he feared that conservatives would “play to the base” and redouble their efforts to vilify homosexuals.
“It’s one of the places the party goes when it’s in trouble,” he said. “A lot of us are holding our breath to see how this plays out.”
【ライブドア・ニュース 10月09日】－ AP通信によると、米議会の事務手伝いのアルバイトだった複数の10代の男子高校生にわいせつな電子メールを送りつけていたとされるマイク・フォーリー共和党下院議員(フロリダ州選出）は9月末議員辞職したが、下院倫理員会は、同僚議員がこの問題を隠ぺいしていたのではないかとの疑惑について調査を行っている。
米議会で相次ぐ不祥事 著名記者が民主党の躍進期待 (ベリタ通信 2006/10/09)
Ex-Page Tells of Foley Liaison
The young man says the then-congressman eyed males in the program. He says he was 21 when he and the Florida Republican had sex.
By Walter F. Roche Jr., Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
October 8, 2006
A former House page says he had sex with then-Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) after receiving explicit e-mails in which the congressman described assessing the sexual orientation and physical attributes of underage pages but waiting until later to make direct advances.
The former page, who agreed to discuss his relationship with Foley with the Los Angeles Times on the condition that he not be identified, said his electronic correspondence with Foley began after he finished the respected Capitol Hill page program for high school juniors. His sexual encounter was in the fall of 2000, he said. At the time, he was 21 and a graduate of a rural Northeastern college.
"I always knew you were a player but I don't fool around with pages," declared one instant message from Maf54, a screen name Foley used in exchanges that have become public involving male former pages.
The former page's account is consistent with Foley's assertion that he did not have sexual relations with minors, an issue that will be key to determining whether he committed crimes. The legal age of consent varies from state to state; in the District of Columbia, where the pages live in supervised dormitories, it is 16.
Yet the former page's exchanges with Foley offer a glimpse of possible predatory behavior by the congressman as he assessed male teenagers assigned as House errand-runners.
In the messages, Maf54 described how years earlier, he had looked to see whether the former page had an erection in his tight white pants while the then-teenager was working near the congressman. Maf54 also speculated about the sexual attributes of other males in the same page class, including the observation that one young man was "well hung."
Foley abruptly resigned his House seat Sept. 29, after the disclosure of sexually oriented messages to former pages. Other messages were subsequently divulged, and questions concerning how much House Republican leaders knew about Foley and his interest in pages are being investigated by the House Ethics Committee. Foley is now in seclusion in an alcohol treatment facility, and his lawyer has declined to answer questions about specific pages.
The FBI has begun contacting former pages, and at least one — a deputy campaign manager for Rep. Ernest Istook, an Oklahoma Republican who is running for governor there — has hired a criminal defense lawyer, according to a published report. Istook issued a statement last week urging the media to protect the young man's privacy after his name was briefly posted on the ABC News website.
The former page interviewed by The Times said he had not been contacted by the FBI or the House Ethics Committee. He agreed to talk to The Times only if his identity was protected, because of his fear that exposure could hurt his job prospects.
The Times found the former page after others identified him as someone whose contacts with Foley went beyond graphic messages. At an interview, the former page brought a computer containing his communications with Foley, and allowed a Times reporter to review them. The young man, who now manages a suburban office of a national franchise, says that he is gay and that he had only one sexual encounter with Foley before the contacts abruptly ended. The Times agreed not to publish the year of his page class to protect his identity.
The young man said that while serving as a page, he and his fellow pages gossiped frequently about Foley's overly friendly behavior but did not complain about him to program supervisors or other members of Congress. They nicknamed him "Triple F," for "Florida Fag Foley." One evening, four of the boys made an unannounced visit to Foley's home.
"We knocked on his door and he let us in. Nothing happened, but he was very friendly," the former page said.
Foley's flirtations made the young man feel important at a time when he was struggling with his emerging sexuality. "It seemed cool that he was taking an interest," he said. "I knew he was gay, and he was attracted to me."
After leaving the program, the former page began receiving messages from Foley. He is uncertain how Foley knew his college instant-message name, but assumed the congressman had access to a directory listing former pages' whereabouts.
The exchanges quickly became provocative. In one 2000 message, Maf54 inquired about the length and direction of the youth's erection.
"I always thought you were gay," Maf54 commented.
"Is it obvious?" the former page asked.
Ultimately, the young man said, he had a sexual encounter with Foley at the congressman's Washington home.
Then 21, he was in Washington as an intern in an unrelated program.
The two had wine and pizza on a backyard patio and then retired to a spare bedroom, he recalled.
The former page, who served during Foley's first term, said that he believed Foley became bolder in his behavior during his decade in Congress.
"He clearly has used his position, but who hasn't?" the former page said. He still follows protocol in referring to the former congressman as "Mr. Foley."
He said Foley was really two very different people: a legislator "really devoted to his cause," and a sexual being.
He and other former pages were surprised that it took so long for Foley "to get caught," he said.
"It most saddens me because of the damage it could do to the program," the young man said of the page system. "It was the most spectacular year of my life. I would love to do it all over again."
Lawmaker Saw Foley Messages In 2000
Page Notified GOP Rep. Kolbe
By Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 9, 2006; A01
A Republican congressman knew of disgraced former representative Mark Foley's inappropriate Internet exchanges as far back as 2000 and personally confronted Foley about his communications.
A spokeswoman for Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.) confirmed yesterday that a former page showed the congressman Internet messages that had made the youth feel uncomfortable with the direction Foley (R-Fla.) was taking their e-mail relationship. Last week, when the Foley matter erupted, a Kolbe staff member suggested to the former page that he take the matter to the clerk of the House, Karen Haas, said Kolbe's press secretary, Korenna Cline.
The revelation pushes back by at least five years the date when a member of Congress has acknowledged learning of Foley's behavior with former pages. A timeline issued by House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) suggested that the first lawmakers to know, Rep. John M. Shimkus (R-Ill.), the chairman of the House Page Board, and Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-La.), became aware of "over-friendly" e-mails only last fall. It also expands the universe of players in the drama beyond members, either in leadership or on the page board.
A source with direct knowledge of Kolbe's involvement said the messages shared with Kolbe were sexually explicit, and he read the contents to The Washington Post under the condition that they not be reprinted. But Cline denied the source's characterization, saying only that the messages had made the former page feel uncomfortable. Nevertheless, she said, "corrective action" was taken. Cline said she has not yet determined whether that action went beyond Kolbe's confrontation with Foley.
In interviews with The Post last week, multiple pages identified Kolbe as a close friend and personal confidante who was one of the only members of Congress to take any interest in them. A former page himself, Kolbe offered to mentor pages and kept in touch with some of them after they left the program, according to the interviews.
Kolbe once invited four former pages to make use of his Washington home while he was out of town, according to an instant message between Foley and another former page, Jordan Edmund, in January 2002. The pages planned to attend a first-year reunion of their page class. But because of a snowstorm, they did not take Kolbe up on his offer, according to one of the four pages.
Cline said one of the youths invited was a former page of Kolbe's. Because the congressman frequently travels on weekends, either to his Arizona ranch or abroad, the house is often available to friends, constituents, staffers and former staff members, such as a former page, she said.
Kolbe, the only openly gay Republican in Congress, is retiring at the end of the year.
The latest revelation in the growing House page scandal comes just a month before crucial midterm elections. Foley resigned Sept. 29 after ABC News confronted him with the sexually explicit messages that he exchanged with a former page, triggering investigations by the Justice Department, the House ethics committee and Florida authorities.
Hastert and his top aides have been sharply criticized by Democrats and some conservative Republicans for failing to act promptly after receiving warnings that Foley had been sexually predatory in dealing with pages and former pages. Ron Bonjean, the speaker's spokesman, said yesterday: "Allegations of inappropriate conduct by members of Congress towards pages need to be fully reviewed by the ethics committee and law enforcement."
In addressing the revelation about Kolbe, Bonjean said, "This allegation reiterates why the speaker has also called for a full review of the House page program to ensure that it is as safe and secure as possible."
A new poll by Newsweek indicates the Foley scandal is doing significant damage to the Republicans' political fortunes and could sink their chances of holding onto control of Congress on Election Day, Nov. 7. The poll found that 52 percent of Americans, including 29 percent of Republicans, believe Hastert was aware of Foley's Internet communications with underage pages and tried to cover up Foley's actions. More of those polled, 42 percent, now say they trust Democrats to do a better job handling moral values than Republicans; 36 percent favored Republicans on the values question.
In a sharp exchange on "Fox News Sunday," Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), the vice chairman of the House Republican Conference, insinuated that Democrats were behind the revelations of Foley's actions and the release of electronic messages showing Foley having sexually graphic or highly suggestive conversations with former pages.
"What I don't understand is where have these e-mails been for three years? Are we saying that a 15-year-old child would have sat on e-mails that were triple-X-rated for three years and suddenly spring them out right on the eve of an election? That's just a little bit too suspicious, even for Washington, D.C.," Kingston said.
Rep. Martin T. Meehan (D-Mass.) shot back, "If there's any evidence that you need that the values in Washington have turned upside down, you could just hear what Jack had to say. Only in Washington, D.C., can you take a group of people in charge of the House and basically have evidence that they've been looking the other way while a predator has been . . . going after 15- and 16-year-old pages, [and] they somehow . . . have the audacity to turn that into a political attack against Democrats."
So far, only ABC News and The Washington Post are known to have obtained the sexually explicit instant messages between two former pages and Foley. The Post obtained its copies from a former page who served on Capitol Hill with the other two pages.
Staff writer James V. Grimaldi contributed to this report.