As upsetting as the current page scandal is, it's not without precedent. With the House ethics committee holding an emergency meeting this morning to consider what action to take in the matter of Mark Foley's behavior -- and how House leadership handled it -- they would do well to consider history.
In 1982, allegations surfaced that House members "had offered preferential treatment to teen-aged legislative pages in return for sexual favors," as the New York Times reported then.
Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill, who was House speaker at the time, vowed full cooperation with the Justice Department (who had already begun to investigate the matter) and vowed a complete inquiry by the House itself.
And the House delivered, appointing a special counsel to conduct a thorough investigation.
How thorough? In 1983, then-Rep. Louis Stokes (D-OH) announced the findings of the inquiry to the full House. As recorded in the Congressional Record:
In all, the special counsel's Office has conducted some 700 interviews, taken more than 125 depositions covering more than 6,000 transcript pages, tried to contact every House page who served since September 1979 and dozens who served earlier, traveled almost 100,000 miles to more than 50 cities, and devoted more than 50,000 hours of staff time to this investigation.
Stokes' full comments can be found here, courtesy of the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. The group advocates an investigation by an outside special counsel.