Denny Hastert and others in the Republican leadership say that they never heard a thing about Mark Foley's indiscretions with House pages before the fall of 2005. That's their story and they're sticking to it.
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But a trickle of stories over the past few days have made that account even harder to believe. Since all the details can get confusing, below is a narrative of warnings and interventions before the leadership says it knew about Foley's problem.
As early as 1997, Foley began sending sexually explicit messages to a page; other pages have come forward from the 1998, 2000, and 2002 classes saying that they also received explicit messages.
The first reported intervention with Foley came in 2000 from Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ), who had a private meeting with him after a page alerted Kolbe that Foley had sent him inappropriate messages. A source, who had copies of the offending instant messages and showed them to The Washington Post, said they were "sexually explicit"; Kolbe's office denied that and said the messages only made the page "uncomfortable."
Kolbe's spokeswoman told the Post that she "could not yet determine" whether Kolbe had notified anyone else (i.e. the Republican leadership) about Foley's problem.
As early as 2001, the Clerk of the House, Jeff Trandahl, notified Kirk Fordham, Foley's former chief of staff, that Foley's behavior with the pages was a problem. Over the course of the next couple years, Trandahl notified Fordham "several times," that Foley had a problem.