Monday, October 02, 2006

More Foley Fallout

House Speaker Asks Gonzales to Probe Lurid Foley Case

Hastert Calls for Justice Dept. Investigation of Foley

FBI Investigating Foley E-Mail to Teens

FBI Looking Into Congressman Foley


Leadership failure: Fearing political setbacks, House officials neglected to protect pages against a member's exploitation.

THE scandal surrounding U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, the Florida Republican who resigned Friday, improves Democrats' chances to regain a majority in the House. However, partisan advantage is a long way from being the most salient feature of this story.

Foley makes a powerful example not only of corruption in high places, but also of the U.S. political arena's boundless capacity for hypocrisy. The more some politicians talk of God, country, honor and the sanctity of the family, the more likely it is they have little regard for any of them.

Foley focused his political career on efforts to punish sexual predators and protect children from them. Until his resignation, he co-chaired the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus. He was the author of key sections of legislation to outlaw the online solicitation of sex with a minor. Yet at least for a year he grotesquely exploited his association with young House pages, sending several of them overfriendly, sometimes sexually explicit electronic messages.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said at various times that he didn't know about the problem with Foley until the scandal became public last week, and that he couldn't remember being apprised of the situation months ago by Rep. Tom Reynolds, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. If one takes Hastert at his word, apparently he was told about inappropriate e-mails between a member and a page, but the information didn't register with the speaker. [snip]

American voters cannot escape the conclusion that the House leadership failed to act against Foley in part because it feared the scandal would endanger the Republican majority in the coming election.

The House leaders' longstanding knowledge of Foley's indiscretions is perhaps the most disturbing element of the scandal. This weekend, Speaker Hastert asked U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to launch a criminal probe not only of Foley, but of all those who knew about his abhorrent behavior but apparently swept it under the rug. [snip]

Democrats See a Chance to Turn the Tables

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