Is a second GOP congressman getting drawn into the House page scandal? NBC reports:
Federal prosecutors in Arizona have opened a preliminary investigation of a camping trip Congressman Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., took 10 years ago that included two teenage congressional pages, a Justice Department spokesman told NBC News.
A spokesman for the Justice Department in Washington said that the U.S. attorney in Arizona has started a “preliminary assessment” of the trip, after an unidentified source made allegations about the congressman’s behavior on the expedition. . . .
One participant, who requested anonymity, said he was uncomfortable with the attention Kolbe paid to one of the former pages. He was “creeped out by it,” he said, adding that there was a lot of “fawning, petting and touching” on the teenager’s arms, shoulders and back by Kolbe. . . .
Kolbe’s office issued a statement to NBC News denying that anything improper had happened. “The rafting trip back in 1996 consisted of five current staff, two former pages, and his sister,” a spokeswoman for Kolbe said. “There is absolutely no basis and no truth to any [allegations of] inappropriate behavior.”
Kolbe, who is gay, had not acknowledged his homosexuality at the time of the trip. He was once a member of the House Page Board. He’s retiring from Congress at the end of this year.
We’re not clear on what NBC is calling a “preliminary investigation,” by the way. Typically, anything short of a formal investigation is referred to as an “inquiry” by the FBI.