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Ethics panel approves subpoenas in new investigation of House page scandal

Ethics panel approves subpoenas in new investigation of House page scandal

The House of Representatives' Ethics Committee approved four dozen subpoenas for documents and testimony Thursday, launching an investigation of a congressional page sex scandal that has imperiled Republican prospects in next month's elections.
The committee's chairman, Rep. Doc Hastings, said a newly formed subcommittee's investigation "will go wherever our evidence leads us."
Asked if Dennis Hastert, the embattled House leader, was among those subpoenaed, Hastings would not comment.
"We are looking at weeks, not months," said the committee's senior Democrat, Rep. Howard Berman.
A House Republican official said that Hastert, fighting to save his job, will take responsibility for the unfolding scandal but insist that he will stay on as leader of House Republicans at a news conference scheduled later in Batavia, Ill.
Hastert will ask former FBI director Louis Freeh to also examine the page system and make recommendations on how to improve the program, almost as old as the Congress itself. Freeh headed the FBI from 1993 to 2001 during Bill Clinton's presidency.
Hastert also will also ask the Ethics Committee to consider new rules so that anyone making inappropriate contact with pages be disciplined. In the case of staff, they would be fired; lawmakers would be subject to expulsion, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity so as to not upstage Hastert.
Hastings said the subpoenas cover lawmakers and staff as well as appointed officers of the House.
Hastert praised the ethic committee's actions and said he would instruct his attorney to cooperate with the panel "in getting to the bottom of this."
"The committee is moving to get control of this situation and find answers to provide all of us peace of mind," he said in a statement.
"Any person who is found guilty of improper conduct involving sexual contact or communication with a page should immediately resign, be fired, or subjected to a vote of expulsion," Hastert said.