Alexa
  • Directory of Taiwan

Ethics Committee launches investigation of Foley case

Ethics Committee launches investigation of Foley case

The House of Representatives' Ethics Committee met Thursday to investigate the unfolding scandal over Rep. Mark Foley's come-ons to congressional interns and accusations even by some Republicans that House speaker Dennis Hastert failed to protect the teens.
The committee, evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, sat in closed session to take up a matter that imperils Hastert's leadership and has stirred extraordinary Republican infighting with Nov. 7 elections barely a month away.
Leaders of the ethics panel said they would speak publicly about the session afterwards.
Hastert asserted that any Republicans urging his ouster are playing into the hands of the opposition.
A fallen speaker "is exactly what our opponents would like to have happen," Hastert said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune on the eve of the meeting.
Hastert said Democrats looking for advantage in the elections wish he would "fold my tent and others would fold our tent and they would sweep the House."
All 435 seats in the House are at stake in the voting and the Democrats have a good chance of taking control.
An extraordinary political spectacle surrounded the committee's first meeting since Foley's resignation and the fallout that followed. Some leading Republicans publicly blamed Hastert for failing to take action after he was warned about the messages. And a former Foley aide said he told Republican leaders about the Florida congressman's conduct years earlier than they have acknowledged.
With Republicans concerned about maintaining their congressional majority in the elections, support for Hastert was ebbing. Republican officials said at least a few disgruntled members of the GOP rank and file had discussed whether to call on the speaker to step aside. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the issue.
Hastert himself apparently was torn over how to proceed. Although he repeatedly has said he would not step down, he was reported to have told a conservative activist and critic that he might consider such a move to spare the party further problems.
Paul Weyrich quoted Hastert as telling him in a phone call Wednesday that "if he thought that resigning would be helpful to the Republicans maintaining the majority, he would do it," Congressional Quarterly reported.
The Justice Department, meanwhile, ordered House officials to preserve all records related to Foley's electronic correspondence with teenagers, known as pages. The request for record preservation is often followed by search warrants and subpoenas, and signal that investigators are moving closer to a criminal investigation.
Kirk Fordham, the former Foley aide, said in an interview with The Associated Press that more than three years ago he had "more than one conversation with senior staff at the highest level of the House of Representatives asking them to intervene." He declined to identify them, but officials said Scott Palmer, Hastert's chief of staff, was one of them. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.
Palmer said through a spokesman, "What Kirk Fordham said did not happen."
Fordham resigned Wednesday as chief of staff to Rep. Thomas Reynold, the House Republican campaign chief who says he alerted Hastert to concerns about Foley last spring.
Fordham disputed allegations that he covered up any misdeeds by Foley. "At no point ever did I ask anyone to block any inquiries," said Fordham, who was Foley's longtime chief of staff until leaving in January 2004.
Rep. Roy Blunt, third-ranking Republican leader, pointedly told reporters he would have handled the Foley matter differently than Hastert, had he known of it.
"I think I could have given some good advice here, which is, you have to be curious, you have to ask all the questions you can think of," Blunt said. "You absolutely can't decide not to look into activities because one individual's parents don't want you to."
House Majority Leader John Boehner said in a radio interview Tuesday: "I believe I talked to the speaker and he told me it had been taken care of. My position is it's in his corner, it's his responsibility."
Ron Bonjean, Hastert's spokesman, said the issue now rests with the Ethics Committee.
"We fully expect that the bipartisan panel will do what it needs to do to investigate this matter and protect the integrity of the House," Bonjean said.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said the committee should question Hastert and the rest of the Republican leadership under oath.
The Ethics Committee had endured a partisan stalemate for 16 months that prevented its members from launching any new investigations. The committee broke the deadlock in May by announcing four separate investigations, including the first congressional probe of a lawmaker linked to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
___
On the Net:
http://www.house.gov/ethics


Updated : 2021-07-27 05:03 GMT+08:00