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And Foleygate storms into week three.

From The Washington Post:

A Republican congressman knew of disgraced former representative Mark Foley's inappropriate Internet exchanges as far back as 2000 and personally confronted Foley about his communications.

A spokeswoman for Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.) confirmed yesterday that a former page showed the congressman Internet messages that had made the youth feel uncomfortable with the direction Foley (R-Fla.) was taking their e-mail relationship...

The revelation pushes back by at least five years the date when a member of Congress has acknowledged learning of Foley's behavior with former pages....

A source with direct knowledge of Kolbe's involvement said the messages shared with Kolbe were sexually explicit, and he read the contents to The Washington Post under the condition that they not be reprinted. But Cline denied the source's characterization, saying only that the messages had made the former page feel uncomfortable. Nevertheless, she said, "corrective action" was taken. Cline said she has not yet determined whether that action went beyond Kolbe's confrontation with Foley.

From Louisville, Ky.'s WHAS-11 News. The story's dated last Thursday, but I don't think we've mentioned this one yet:

According to Congressman Ron Lewis, the former page is now a soldier in Iraq. But five years ago, he was a teenage page in the U.S. House who was the subject of some kind of questionable contact from Congressman Mark Foley.

Lewis’s chief of staff got a satellite phone call from Iraq Tuesday afternoon from a man who wouldn't identify himself. But he did say he was a soldier from Kentucky’s Second Congressional District who wanted to give Lewis a heads up.

“To let us know that he had been approached by Mark Foley in 2001 and that he is speaking to the proper authorities, to a JAG officer who will then pass that on to the FBI,” says Lewis.

Congressman Lewis’s office is the only local one we've found that's gotten a call from any of their former pages, alleging misconduct by Foley, a man Lewis describes this way: “He was a creepy guy.”


According to the story, Lewis' office got the call from the former page on Oct. 2. The next day, the congressman cancelled his Oct. 10 fundraiser with House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL).

Follow-ups to this story have noted that the FBI has since spoken with the ex-page who contacted Lewis.

Lewis hasn't yet called for Hastert's ouster, but WHAS says he's pointedly not ruling out the possibility he might do so in the future.

In a long, detailed piece on the Foley scandal, Newsweek gives the most detailed account yet of Kirk Fordham's early warning to Speaker Hastert's chief of staff about Foley's interest in the House pages.

According to Newsweek, Fordham, then Foley's chief of staff, approached Scott Palmer after Foley's now-infamous drunken visit to the House page dorm. But most significantly, Fordham says that after the meeting, Palmer told him that he'd "informed the Speaker" about the problem -- and this was "sometime in 2002 or 2003."

From Newsweek:

As early as in 2001, Fordham had received disturbing reports of Foley's "inappropriate" behavior toward the congressional pages. According to a knowledgeable source familiar with Fordham's account, who did not wish to be identified discussing such a sensitive matter, Fordham is prepared to tell investigators that he was warned "on two or three occasions" about Foley's "overly friendly" socializing with young male pages.

He was informed by Jeff Trandahl, then the Clerk of the House, who oversees the page program. On one occasion, sometime in 2002 or 2003, Trandahl told Fordham about Foley's nocturnal adventure to the pages' dorm. Trandahl told Fordham that Foley "appeared intoxicated," according to the source who provided Fordham's account to NEWSWEEK.

This incident prompted Fordham to go to Scott Palmer, Hastert's chief of staff, and tell him about Foley's behavior. Fordham called Palmer and told him that he wanted to speak with him privately, the source says. The two men met in a small office on Capitol Hill. (Palmer says the meeting never took place.)

Fordham did not tell Palmer about Foley's attempt to enter the pages' dormitory, but rather that he was generally concerned about his boss's excessive friendliness to the pages, according to the source. Palmer expressed surprise and concern, the source says, and wondered what this could mean to Foley's political future. Why would he endanger his career with such conduct?

Palmer assured Fordham that he would talk to Foley. A day or two later, Fordham called Palmer to ask what happened. Palmer told him that he "dealt with it" by talking to Foley and that he "informed the Speaker," according to the source familiar with Fordham's account. Months later Fordham had an awkward conversation with Foley in which his boss indicated that he had spoken to Palmer.

Your Sunday morning Foley scandal roundup:

The Washington Post takes a fine-toothed comb to the different versions of the Foley scandal, as told by GOP leaders. Unsurprising to TPM readers, it snags various inconsistencies:

Gaps and inconsistencies in the public accounts include such basic matters as when House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and his top aides first learned of concerns about Foley's relationships with male pages, and what they did about it. Also unclear is which GOP officials decided that only two members of the six-person House Page Board should confront the Florida lawmaker.

And accounts differ on whether the two board members knew the exact contents of e-mails Foley sent last year to a teenage boy in Louisiana.


Meanwhile, the LATimes takes a closer look at the "fixers" on House Speaker Dennis Hastert's (R-IL) staff who were supposed to take care of the Foley problem before it erupted. The "trusted lieutenants" now embroiled in the mess are compared to Richard Nixon's win-at-all-costs sycophants who squashed political problems for the impeached president:

Today, what this trio of senior aides knew about Foley's interest in teenage pages and what they did about it may determine whether the story remains a sexual scandal or grows into one of broader deception and coverup, as Hastert's critics have charged.

Fiercely loyal to the speaker and the Republican Party, veteran aides Scott Palmer, Mike Stokke and Ted Van Der Meid have for years helped Hastert tend to his Republican flock — and protect its members when they run into trouble.

According to several current and former congressional staffers, the group played a central role in the effort to rewrite House rules so then-Majority Leader Tom DeLay could retain his leadership post even if he were indicted. The team also helped engineer the elimination of a congressional subcommittee critical of the cost of a construction project favored by Hastert and others.


Finally, several papers, including the LATimes and the Chicago Tribune, are raising serious questions about whether the House ethics committee is up to the task of investigating the scandal -- since it's done so poorly in the past, and is already showing signs of partisan influence. The Trib uncovers this nugget:

[S]ome Democrats complained Friday about a "strategy session" conference call that [investigative panel member Rep. Judy] Biggert [(R-IL)]reportedly participated in early in the week with other House Republicans about how to deal with the political fallout from the Foley case.

But Biggert said the Monday conference call took place before she knew she'd be part of the subcommittee named to look into the issue, and she also said the call was informational and not political in nature. Biggert, a lawyer, said she can perform her duties like an "officer of the court," without regard for who has given her political support.


Biggert, of course, was a member of the ethics panel at the time of the call, even though she had not yet been named to the investigative subcommittee.

Further evidence of trouble: the comments of investigative panel chair Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA), that Hastert has done an "excellent job" handling the Foley mess. Also, Hastert has given nearly $50,000 to GOP members of the ethics panel in the last several years. What, we worry?

A former House page tells the LATimes that after several years of contact, he and Mark Foley had sex:

A former House page says he had sex with then-Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) after receiving explicit e-mails in which the congressman described assessing the sexual orientation and physical attributes of underage pages but waiting until later to make direct advances.

The former page, who agreed to discuss his relationship with Foley with the Los Angeles Times on the condition that he not be identified, said his electronic correspondence with Foley began after he finished the respected Capitol Hill page program for high school juniors. His sexual encounter was in the fall of 2000, he said. At the time, he was 21 and a graduate of a rural Northeastern college. . . .

[T]he former page's exchanges with Foley offer a glimpse of possible predatory behavior by the congressman as he assessed male teenagers assigned as House errand-runners. . . .

Foley's flirtations made the young man feel important at a time when he was struggling with his emerging sexuality. "It seemed cool that he was taking an interest," he said. "I knew he was gay, and he was attracted to me."

Two developments in this morning's news: First, the lawyer for an ex-page who IMed with Mark Foley now says he can't rule out the possibility that his client's lewd chats were a prank, as had been reported previously, but it "sounds" like "a piece of fiction."

Earlier Stephen Jones, lawyer for former House page Jordan Edmund, stated decisively that the "prank" report was untrue.

Second, a current GOP staffer has told the Washington Post that Hastert's chief of staff told Foley to knock off his page hijinks long before the House speaker says his aides knew about the problem. Over at TPM, Josh has the full breakdown on what this means -- in short, it's not too good for Hastert.

Of course, the chair of the panel investigating the matter says "I think the Speaker has done an excellent job," so who are we to disagree?

Duke Cunningham speaks! In an error-laden letter to the reporters who helped put him in prison, the disgraced ex-congressman lashed out at the investigative team, its paper, one of his bribers and -- not TPMmuckraker. (We're hoping a separate letter is on its way.)

Duke, who may have been the first congressman ever to draft up his own "bribe menu," complained that the reporters only wanted to write about "how I died not how I lived." He cited his many accomplishments and citations, including "Library Man of the Year."

More:

[Cunningham's] anger at the Copley organization – parent company of the Union-Tribune – was clear even from the envelope, which he addressed to “Copley News tabloid” with the word “tabloid” underlined.

“I hurt more than anyone could imagine and without my faith your constant cruelty would destroy me,” he wrote.

Cunningham cited his religious faith again when he wrote, “The Lord's Prayer forgive me my debts as I would forgive. My first sin each night is the failure to forgive the U.T. Not just coverage but the brutal two and three pages each week that has nearly destroyed me and my family.”

He warned that the “truth will come out and you will find out how liablest [libelous] you have & will be.”

He also complained that Stern and other Copley reporters “only want to write about how I died not how I lived.” And he rattled off a long list of honors he said he earned as a congressman – “Education Man of the Year, Impact Aide Man of the Year, Library Man of the Year,” among others.


I imagine the letter was difficult for the reporters to read -- blinded, as they were, by the light glancing off the Pulitzer prizes they won by helping land Duke in jail.

The paper didn't release the entire letter, just a portion, which you can see here.

In other Duke news, the paper reported that the ex-congressman's wife has forfeited her home to the Feds. Duke purchased the multi-million-dollar palace through illegal means. If it wasn't for those meddling reporters. . .

Whoops. Karl Rove threw a party for dozens of White House staffers at Jack Abramoff's restaurant in January 2004, but was not charged, according to a new story in the National Journal (not available online).

The senior White House adviser only paid his tab at Abramoff's Signatures restaurant this May, the magazine reports -- after Abramoff had pled guilty to multiple felonies, including conspiracy to defraud the United States.

Approximately 50 operatives from Rove's office attended the party, for which Rove was ultimately charged $995. NJ's Peter Stone says they "munched on pricey hors d'oeuvres" as they listened to Rove give a pep talk. Rove made the reservation for the private room through Susan Ralston, his personal aide who resigned earlier today because of her ties to Abramoff.

Read More →

Earlier this week, Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-OH) sent a letter to the clerk of the House requesting a probe into rumors that a drunk Mark Foley was turned away from the House page dormitory.

That part got a lot of attention, and for good reason. But Pryce repeated a second allegation in her letter, something she also heard during a GOP conference call on Oct. 2, that didn't get much play: Jeff Trandahl, onetime House clerk at the time of much of Foley's newly-revealed transgressions, had been warned about Foley by the director of the page program.

"[A]nother claim was brought forth that the director of the Republican pages brought specific concerns about then-Congressman Foley's behavior to the attention of the then-Clerk of the House," Pryce wrote.

Read More →

Yet another casualty in the Jack Abramoff scandal: Karl Rove's personal aide Susan Ralston has resigned over her ties to Abramoff, the AP reports.

Ralston was Abramoff's personal assistant until she moved over to Rove's office in 2001. Abramoff reportedly bragged to others that Ralston was his "implant" at the White House.

The White House announced an internal ethics investigation of Ralston after a Congressional report released last week showed extensive contacts between Ralston and Abramoff's lobbying team. Among other things, the report showed that Ralston had accepted thousands of dollars in gifts from Abramoff without compensating him. White House ethics rules prevent employees from accepting gifts worth more than $20.

White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino told the AP that Ralston resigned because "she did not want to be a distraction to the White House at such an important time and so we have accepted her resignation."

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