Priest Tells of Foley Relationship
"A Catholic priest told the Herald-Tribune on Wednesday about an intimate two-year relationship he had with former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley when the congressman was a teenage altar boy living in Lake Worth.
From his home on the island of Gozo, near Italy, Anthony Mercieca described a series of encounters that he said Foley might perceive as sexually inappropriate.
Among them: massaging Foley while the boy was naked, skinny-dipping together at a secluded lake in Lake Worth and being naked in the same room on overnight trips.
One night, when Mercieca says he was in a drug-induced stupor, there was an incident he says he can't clearly remember that might have gone too far." (Sarasota (Fla.) Herald-Tribune)
Boehner and Ex-Clerk of House Testify
"Two key congressional figures testified before a House ethics panel yesterday about their roles in the Mark Foley scandal, reportedly sticking to accounts indicating that Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) or his top aides had been alerted to concerns about the disgraced Florida Republican's behavior toward teenage pages before it became public.
"The committee spent more than four hours questioning Jeff Trandahl, a central figure who has remained publicly silent about the affair. As House clerk from 1999 through last year, Trandahl oversaw the page program and dealt with several complaints about the actions of Foley, who abruptly resigned his House seat Sept. 29 as ABC News was reporting on sexually graphic electronic messages he had exchanged with former pages....
"Also yesterday, House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) became the highest-ranking lawmaker to testify to the ethics panel on the Foley matter. Speaking to reporters after about an hour of questioning, he said: 'I told the committee the same thing that I have told many of you.'" (WaPo)
Cunningham Offered to Testify From Jail
"Former Rep. Duke Cunningham [R-CA] has offered to testify about his activities as a member of the House Intelligence Committee to the panelâs chairman, Rep. Pete Hoekstra [R-MI], but only if Hoekstra personally travels to the North Carolina federal prison where Cunningham is now serving a sentence for bribery-related charges.
"Hoekstra turned down the offer to meet with his former colleague, which was outlined in a recent letter from Cunningham to the Michigan Republican. Hoekstra told Cunningham that he wanted a special counsel appointed by the committee, Michael Stern, to conduct any interview with the imprisoned ex-lawmaker." (Roll Call)
Rep. Lewis Is House's Top Recipient of Lobbyist Donations
"When the list was finished, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jerry Lewis (R-Redlands) came out on top, ahead of all his House peers. But this was one triumph no one in his office was celebrating. . . .
"The lawmaker is under federal scrutiny over his ties to lobbyists whose clients have received millions of dollars in earmarks from the appropriations committee. He has denied any impropriety." (LATimes)
Prosecutor in Lewis Probe Leaves -- to Join Lawmaker's Defense Firm
"Debra Wong Yang, U.S. attorney for California's central district, is resigning to take a job with a high-profile private law firm.
Yang is expected to leave Nov. 10 for Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, where she will serve as co-chair of the firm's crisis management practice group. . . .
"[The firm] provides legal counsel to House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jerry Lewis, currently under investigation by Yang's office over his ties to a lobbyist." (LA Daily News)
Gay Republicans Dwindle Nationally
"Never more than a tiny fraction of GOP politicians, openly gay Republicans are about to disappear from Congress with the retirement of Rep. Jim Kolbe of Arizona, and [Minnesota state senatorPaul] Koering is the lone openly gay GOP state legislator -- out of 7,382 seats nationwide. The Democrats, by contrast, have 56 openly gay legislators and embrace an array of gay-rights causes....
"Victory Fund president Chuck Wolfe said the ranks of openly gay GOP candidates have dwindled in recent years as religious conservatives have expanded their influence and made opposition to same-sex marriage a high-profile issue in the 2004 election.
"Instead of an all-welcoming 'big tent,' the GOP 'is more of a revival tent,' Wolfe said. 'It has chased out more and more gay Republicans.'" (AP)
Hill Republicans Air Out the Closet
"[Even] as gays have moved visibly into mainstream America, they hold a tenuous, complicated spot within the ranks of the GOP, whose earlier libertarian, live-and-let-live values have been ground down by the wedge issue of opposition to gay rights. And, even though an Inhofe staffer confirmed last week that his boss still maintains his employment ban, many gay men are key aides to Republican legislators, powerful silent partners in winning elections by pledging allegiance to religious 'values voters' ever on the alert against 'the homosexual agenda.'...
"'You have to separate the marketing from the reality. The reality is, these members are not homophobic. For the most part, they're using this marketing to play to our base and stay in power. They have to turn out the votes,' said David Duncan, once a board member of the Lesbian and Gay Congressional Staff Association and a former top aide to Rep. Robert Ney [R-OH], who last week pleaded guilty to corruption charges linked to the Abramoff scandal." (WaPo)
Doolittle, Others, Try to Link Dems With NAMBLA
"In an apparent effort to deflect controversy from the congressional page scandal, some prominent conservatives have begun baselessly accusing their opponents of being allied with the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA).
"NAMBLA is a group that promotes pedophilia and has called for the âabolition of age-of-consent and all other lawsâ regarding sexual relations with minors." (Think Progess)
Jefferson Rival Outraises Embattled Congressman
"Embattled Rep. William Jefferson [D-LA] got a late-September fundraising boost from his Congressional Black Caucus colleagues, newly filed third-quarter reports showed, although his leading primary opponent still outraised him by a 2-1 margin....
"Jefferson raised $160,000 in the third quarter of the year and ended September with $333,000 in his campaign account.
"State Rep. Karen Carter (D), considered Jeffersonâs leading opponent in the Nov. 7 all-party primary, raised $327,000 in the three-month period, the first quarter she has reported with the Federal Election Commission. She had $225,000 left in the bank at the end of last month." (Roll Call)
RNC Runs Ad It Knows to Be False
"The Republican Party last night refused to cancel commercials that claim Sherrod Brown was a longtime tax scofflaw - even though the state of Ohio says the ad's claim is untrue.
"Brown, the Democrat running against incumbent Mike DeWine, paid the tax bill years ago, soon after receiving a tax lien, according to newly released records from the Brown campaign and authenticated by the state.
"But the Republican National Committee, supporting DeWine's reelection bid, is running commercials saying that Brown 'didn't pay his unemployment taxes for 13 years.'...
"The tax bill in question, for $1,776, was for unemployment taxes on the Brown campaign organization for the 1992 tax year. After the taxes weren't paid on time, the state filed a lien in Lorain County, where the campaign was based, on Dec. 2, 1993. The Brown campaign then paid the bill within four months, according to the state.
"The lien should have been released then, and the state in fact issued a lien release on April 20, 1994. But because of a mixup, no one actually filed the necessary papers with the Lorain County recorder until 2005." (Cleveland Plain-Dealer)
US Questioned About Arar Torture Case
"Days before the Bush administration put Canadian citizen Maher Arar on a plane for Syria, Canadian law enforcement officials advised their U.S. counterparts that evidence of terrorist links by Arar was not definitive.
"Why the Bush administration still shipped Arar to Syria -- where he was tortured -- and whether he remains on the United States' terror watch list are still unknown. Administration officials refuse to talk about the case." (AP)
Judge Orders Cheney Visitor Logs Opened
"A federal judge has ordered the Bush administration to release information about who visited Vice President
Dick Cheney's office and personal residence, an order that could spark a late election-season debate over lobbyists' White House access.
"While researching the access lobbyists and others had on the White House, The Washington Post asked in June for two years of White House visitor logs. The Secret Service refused to process the request, which government attorneys called 'a fishing expedition into the most sensitive details of the vice presidency.'" (AP)
Court Told It Lacks Power in Detainee Cases
"In a notice dated Wednesday, the Justice Department listed 196 pending habeas [corpus] cases, some of which cover groups of detainees. The new Military Commissions Act (MCA), it said, provides that "no court, justice, or judge" can consider those petitions or other actions related to treatment or imprisonment filed by anyone designated as an enemy combatant, now or in the future....
"The new law already has been challenged as unconstitutional by lawyers representing the petitioners. The issue of detainee rights is likely to reach the Supreme Court for a third time." (WaPo)
Fla. Official Appeals Foley Sign Ruling
"Florida's secretary of state on Thursday appealed a ruling that prohibits the posting of signs to tell voters in the district of disgraced former Rep. Mark Foley that his votes will go to another Republican.
"Circuit Judge Janet Ferris ruled Wednesday that state law did not permit such signs to be posted in polling places." (AP)
Republican Leaders Want GOP Candidate to Withdraw from Race Over Letter
"Orange County Republican leaders on Thursday called for the withdrawal of a GOP congressional candidate they believe sent a letter threatening Hispanic immigrant voters with arrest.
"Tan D. Nguyen denied knowing anything about the letter in an interview Thursday with The Associated Press, but said he fired a campaign staffer who may have been responsible for it.
County Republican Chairman Scott Baugh, however, said that after speaking with state investigators and the company that distributed the mailer, he believes Nguyen had direct knowledge of 'obnoxious and reprehensible' letter. He told the AP that the party's executive committee voted unanimously to Nguyen to drop out of the race against Democratic U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez." (AP)
House Intel Chair Suspends Staff Member
"The unidentified staff member, a Democrat, was suspended this week by Chairman Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., and is being denied access to classified information pending the outcome of a review, Hoekstra's spokesman, Jamal Ware, said Thursday. . . .
"In a letter to Hoekstra dated Sept. 29, Rep. Ray LaHood (R-IL), a committee member, said the Democratic staffer requested the document from National Intelligence Director John Negroponte three days before a Sept. 23 story by the Times on its conclusions.
"'I have no credible information to say any classified information was leaked from the committee's minority staff, but the implications of such would be dramatic,' LaHood said in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press. 'This may, in fact, be only coincidence, and simply "look bad." But coincidence, in this town, is rare.'" (AP)
Senate Committees Probe SEC's Pequot Investigation
"The Senate Finance Committee, among other entities, is continuing to probe the Securities and Exchange Commission's handling of an insider-trading investigation involving hedge fund Pequot Capital Management Inc. and Wall Street executive John Mack. The matter stems from an allegation that the agency granted him favored treatment because of his large donations to Republican campaigns." (WSJ) (sub. req.)