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The facts of the disgrace of Mark Foley, who was a Republican member of the House from a Florida district until he resigned last week, constitute a disgrace for every Republican member of Congress. Red flags emerged in late 2005, perhaps even earlier, in suggestive and wholly inappropriate e-mail messages to underage congressional pages. His aberrant, predatory -- and possibly criminal -- behavior was an open secret among the pages who were his prey. The evidence was strong enough long enough ago that the speaker should have relieved Mr. Foley of his committee responsibilities contingent on a full investigation to learn what had taken place, whether any laws had been violated and what action, up to and including prosecution, were warranted by the facts. This never happened.
Rep. John Shimkus of Illinois, the Republican chairman of the House Page Board, said he learned about the Foley e-mail messages "in late 2005." Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, the leader of the Republican majority, said he was informed of the e-mail messages earlier this year. On Friday, Mr. Hastert dissembled, to put it charitably, before conceding that he, too, learned about the e-mail messages sometime earlier this year. Late yesterday afternoon, Mr. Hastert insisted that he learned of the most flagrant instant-message exchange from 2003 only last Friday, when it was reported by ABC News. This is irrelevant. The original e-mail messages were warning enough that a predator -- and, incredibly, the co-chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children -- could be prowling the halls of Congress. The matter wasn't pursued aggressively. It was barely pursued at all. Moreover, all available evidence suggests that the Republican leadership did not share anything related to this matter with any Democrat.
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There should be no excuses. I am deeply sorry that Congressman Foley has had a difficult childhood. I hope that any issues that he has he gets worked out between him and his counselor and or his psychiatrist. Mr. Foley's attorney read a statement. Mr. Foley denies ever having sex with any young boys. Congressman Foley admits to being gay. He also states that he had a troubled childhood and was molested by clergy.
We've heard multiple excuses from the party who was voted in office to clean up Washington over 12 years ago. We've seen a parade of Republicans resign positions of leadership and resign from office secondary to poor judgment, sexual scandal and other malfeasance. I completely and totally understand that everyone is human. But, if you are elected because you are morally superior and you turn out to be no different or possibly morally worse than I have issues.
The fallout from this Congressman Foley scandal may be huge. The Republican leadership must find a way in the next 24 to 48 hours to bail the water out of the sinking ship. All of the major media outlets are all over this scandal. If Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert is able to weather the storm the Republicans will come out stronger than before. If on the other hand more revelations pop up, Speaker of the House is not able to explain why he did nothing for months if not possibly years since learning about Congressman Foley the Republican leadership in the Republican Party will take a huge hit. Multiple resignations would be expected to follow.