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GOP insiders agree: Hastert cannot survive scandal

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October 5, 2006

Republican insiders and political strategists admit privately that embattled Speaker of the House Dennis J. Hastert cannot survive the rapidly-expanding and increasingly damaging Congressional page scandal.

"There’s no doubt about it: Hastert has to go," a GOP political campaign operative said late Wednesday as the House Ethics Committee prepared to meet today to investigate former Repubican Rep. Mark Foley’s incredibly bizzare behavior towards young male pages along with Hastert’s failure to take action.

Kirk Fordham, chief of staff to National Republican Congressional Committee head Rep. Thomas Reynolds and a former top aide to Foley, resigned Wednesday and told reporters he had warned Hastert’s office about Foley’s inappropriate behavior three years ago but that the Speaker did nothing.

Like Foley, Fordham is gay, as are a number of top Republican staff members in the House, Senate and national GOP committees. Investigators for the House Ethics Committee want to know if gays in the House conspired to protect Foley.

"We’re talking tip of the iceberg here," one House Ethics Committee staffer tells Capitol Hill Blue. "This thing will just keep getting worse."

Committee investigators are also focusing on the actions, or inaction, of Hastert’s chief of staff, Scott Palmer who some say may have stonewalled any investigation of Foley.

For Republicans, already struggling to hold on to control of the House and Senate, the scandal could not have come at a worse time. New polls show support for Democrats increasing as problems mount for the GOP.

The Associated Press reports:

Speaker Dennis Hastert’s job is on the line as members of the House ethics committee decide how to launch a credible investigation of former Rep. Mark Foley’s salacious computer messages to teenage pages.

An extraordinary political spectacle surrounded the committee’s first scheduled meeting Thursday. Republicans publicly blamed Hastert for failing to take action after he was warned about the messages, and a former Foley aide said he told Republican leaders about the Florida congressman’s conduct years earlier than they have acknowledged.

With Republicans concerned about maintaining their congressional majority in the Nov. 7 elections, political support for Hastert was ebbing. Republican officials said at least a few disgruntled members of the GOP rank and file had discussed whether to call on the speaker to step aside. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the issue.

Hastert told the Chicago Tribune on Wednesday night that he has no thoughts of resigning. He blamed ABC News, which broke the Foley e-mail story, and Democratic operatives for the mushrooming scandal.

The Justice Department, meanwhile, ordered House officials to preserve all records related to Foley’s electronic correspondence with teenagers. The request for record preservation is often followed by search warrants and subpoenas, and signal that investigators are moving closer to a criminal investigation.

Kirk Fordham, the former Foley aide, said in an interview with The Associated Press that more than three years ago he had "more than one conversation with senior staff at the highest level of the House of Representatives asking them to intervene." He declined to identify them, but officials said Scott Palmer, Hastert’s chief of staff, was one of them. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.

Palmer said through a spokesman, "What Kirk Fordham said did not happen."

Fordham resigned Wednesday as chief of staff to Rep. Thomas Reynolds, R-N.Y., the House GOP campaign chief who says he alerted Hastert to concerns about Foley last spring.

Fordham disputed allegations that he covered up any misdeeds by Foley. "At no point ever did I ask anyone to block any inquiries," said Fordham, who was Foley’s longtime chief of staff until leaving in January 2004.

Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri, third-ranking GOP leader, pointedly told reporters he would have handled the Foley matter differently than Hastert, had he known of it.

"I think I could have given some good advice here, which is, you have to be curious, you have to ask all the questions you can think of," Blunt said. "You absolutely can’t decide not to look into activities because one individual’s parents don’t want you to."

House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a radio interview Tuesday: "I believe I talked to the speaker and he told me it had been taken care of. My position is it’s in his corner, it’s his responsibility."

Ron Bonjean, Hastert’s spokesman, said the issue now rests with the ethics committee.

"We fully expect that the bipartisan panel will do what it needs to do to investigate this matter and protect the integrity of the House," Bonjean said.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California said the committee needs to question Hastert and the rest of the Republican leadership under oath.

"The children, their parents, the public, and our colleagues deserve answers and those who covered up Mark Foley’s behavior must be held accountable," Pelosi said.

Foley, 52, resigned last Friday after he was confronted with sexually explicit electronic messages he had sent teenage male pages. He has since entered an alcohol rehabilitation facility at an undisclosed location. Through his lawyer, he has said he is gay but denied any sexual contact with minors.

His abrupt departure and the ensuing sex scandal has shaken Republican confidence — and poll numbers — and plunged Hastert and others into an intensive effort to grapple with conflicting claims about what senior lawmakers knew, when they learned it and what they did about it.

The ethics committee had endured a partisan stalemate for 16 months that prevented its members from launching any new investigations. The committee broke the deadlock in May by announcing four separate investigations, including the first congressional probe of a lawmaker linked to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Now, the committee, which is equally divided between Republicans and Democrats, has the sensitive job of investigating the House speaker, the top official in the chamber. When the committee investigated Democratic Speaker Jim Wright and Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich, it hired outside counsels.

The ethics panel also hired an outside lawyer to conduct a broad sex-and-drugs investigation in the early 1980s that ended with the censure of two House members for consensual relationships with House pages, who are high school students who work on Capitol Hill delivering messages and running other errands.

The outside counsel in the Wright investigation said the committee must hire an independent investigator to convince the public it can conduct a nonpartisan investigation of congressional leaders.

Richard Phelan, hired to investigate Wright, said an outside counsel was key to a credible investigation.

"The perception outside (Washington) is that Congress and the speaker and those running Congress have screwed this thing up," Phelan said. "I think you probably have to start with Hastert."

68 Responses to GOP insiders agree: Hastert cannot survive scandal

  1. Doubtom

    October 5, 2006 at 6:15 pm

  2. Fred P

    October 5, 2006 at 7:36 pm

  3. Gentlewoman

    October 5, 2006 at 7:55 pm

  4. harry johnson

    October 5, 2006 at 7:59 pm

  5. Doubtom

    October 5, 2006 at 8:02 pm

  6. Deceived and disgraced by the GOP

    October 5, 2006 at 8:11 pm

  7. Jason Shapiro

    October 5, 2006 at 8:13 pm

  8. Ted Remington

    October 5, 2006 at 8:57 pm

  9. Ted

    October 5, 2006 at 8:58 pm

  10. R Blandy

    October 5, 2006 at 9:26 pm

  11. Ted

    October 5, 2006 at 10:27 pm

  12. Dave

    October 5, 2006 at 10:54 pm

  13. Steve-o

    October 6, 2006 at 12:00 am

  14. spider

    October 6, 2006 at 12:12 am

  15. Fred P

    October 6, 2006 at 12:16 am

  16. Talcott

    October 6, 2006 at 12:29 am

  17. C. Lazzaroni

    October 6, 2006 at 12:40 am

  18. Robin

    October 6, 2006 at 12:50 am

  19. Fred P

    October 6, 2006 at 1:03 am

  20. Jim

    October 6, 2006 at 1:39 am

  21. Fred P

    October 6, 2006 at 1:43 am

  22. Fred Goepfert

    October 6, 2006 at 1:48 am

  23. Jim

    October 6, 2006 at 1:51 am

  24. gaydar

    October 6, 2006 at 2:18 am

  25. R S

    October 6, 2006 at 4:15 am

  26. Sandy Price

    October 5, 2006 at 2:01 pm

    I expect the GOP to go into a mania of gay bashing which hopefully will take them out of power. The GOP is obsessed with sex of any persuasion. I’m tired of it.

    I would rather the elected officials and their staff would keep their hands off each other. The entire Hill sounds like a whore house.

    It is not a partisan issue except the GOP keeps trying to separate Americans through their talkers like this Tony Perkins and Pat Buchanan who speak only for Evangelicals. It makes one wonder if they have control of their own urges.

    Our voters to not elect men of character and the voters get what they voted for. The House itself does not appoint “Speakers” of character and D.C. will never improve until the voters start learning about who they put into office.

    The voters think themselves to be casting directors and put in men who look like legislators but who are nothing but 2-bit politicians.

    There is no hope for America until the voters turn off their televisions and do some research about what they want and then find the best candidates. I have not seen an honest Republican for years running in any position except Ron Paul of Texas.

    I will be voting against my own House and Senate members just to try to get them out of office. They are shocking whores working for the king pimp in the white house.

  27. Sandy Price

    October 5, 2006 at 2:01 pm

  28. Juan Schoch

    October 5, 2006 at 2:14 pm

  29. dave

    October 5, 2006 at 2:51 pm

  30. harry johnson

    October 5, 2006 at 3:53 pm

  31. keith

    October 5, 2006 at 4:36 pm

  32. David Pettengill

    October 5, 2006 at 5:48 pm

  33. Phil

    October 5, 2006 at 5:50 pm

  34. Phil

    October 5, 2006 at 5:51 pm

  35. Ginny McIntyre

    October 5, 2006 at 5:57 pm

  36. Juan Schoch

    October 5, 2006 at 2:14 pm

  37. dave

    October 5, 2006 at 2:51 pm

    Another one bites the dust, another one bites the dust, and another one’s down and another one’s down, and another one bites the dust.

    HA! Isn’t the ebb and flow of the Tao a wonderful thing?

  38. harry johnson

    October 5, 2006 at 3:53 pm

    the gop brought this on themselves. they are about money and power, thats all. helping the country solve the issues facing us is not on their agenda. they will use whatever means – no matter how nasty ,deceitful or illegal as a means to an end. this is why i hate the republican party. the best thing that could happen to this country is that the gop should collapse and the dems be transformed into the party of the people again instead of the corporations.what makes this whole scandel particularly delicious is that the gop claim to be the party of “family” and “values” shows exactly how malicous and deceitful they really are. its not that liberals are any more virtuous, although i beleive they are because by and large most liberals like to have sex with ADULTS. i have worked in correctional facilties and i can tell you that most criminals would be placed on the right of the political spectrum- they believe in personal liberty to the extreme.

  39. keith

    October 5, 2006 at 4:36 pm

    This whole Foley thing is yet another example of the entrenched, systemic, “good ‘ol’ boy” corruption (on BOTH sides of the aisle) in our US Congress.

    Every elective legislative body attracts its share of neer-do-wells. But, in a Congress of only 535 legislators, it seems that the bums, crooks and perverts are now making up an ever more disproportionate share of the whole. What’s more, when illegal activities ARE publicly exposed, in case after case, rather than appoint an outside agency to investigate, Congress does it all internally and simply sweeps the whole stinking mess under the carpet. That’s because “Job #1” is to protect their own rearward facing anatomies at all costs. In the case of Congressman (now Citizen) Foley, if he were an employee in any business that I owned rather than a US Congressman, he would have been fired long, long ago.

    It now appears that EVERYONE’S individual behavior in the US Congress has become so shameful and corrupt that nobody there dares “rock the boat” by ratting on another “esteemed colleague” for fear of them “ratting” in return…hence the latest round of “circular firing squads”.

    Fortunately, WE THE PEOPLE still have the power to “fire” the whole, hopelessly corrupt crew. It’s called a write-in. Use it!

  40. David Pettengill

    October 5, 2006 at 5:48 pm

    Wow, so soon you Liberals forget: it was in 1984 or so that a Democrat Senator was doing the same thing but actually doing the deed with the Page, and he refused to quit, serving in the HOuse until 1996! It was your President Clinton who couldn’t stifle his urges in the White House. It was your President Kennedy who took us into war in Vietnam. It was your President Carter who caused the utter collapse of our financial markets and oppressed the poor and weak who couldnt afford double-digit interest rates. It is true that our system of government sucks……….but it’s the best one in the World. Both sides have faults, and both sides have great ideas. Open your mind and listen to the facts, not the newsmen. Don’t believe everything your hear or read and think for yourself.

  41. Phil

    October 5, 2006 at 5:50 pm

    Republicans are a bunch of hypocrites. They claim morality through meaningless public discourse, like “I’m a Christian” but privately are a bunch of perverts and crooks!

  42. Phil

    October 5, 2006 at 5:51 pm

    Republicans are a bunch of hypocrites. They claim morality through meaningless public discourse, like “I’m a Christian” but privately are a bunch of perverts.

  43. Ginny McIntyre

    October 5, 2006 at 5:57 pm

    If Mr. Foley succeeded in meeting any of his solicited pages for a date, it seems to be somewhat criminal (as in other cases where men have been stung for such a deed — even without ever obtaining sexual relations). If this is the casse, then are Haster, Reynolds, etc., accomplices? If so, shouldn’t they have a right to a fair and speedy trial, as guaranteed by our constitution? Then, we will know the truth and they will be held accountable just as other common citizens would be.

  44. Doubtom

    October 5, 2006 at 6:15 pm

    Hastert, listen up! Waddle your fat ass out of there. You’re a sickening sight to behold and your bloated fat ass reminds us all of what is wrong with Congress and politicians in general.

  45. Fred P

    October 5, 2006 at 7:36 pm

    Other than possible additional damage to the Republican party’s chances to retain control of the House and Senate, I don’t think it matters much if he resigns as long as there is a swift, independant investigation. If he is found guilty of something serious, he won’t remain as Speaker for long in any case.

  46. Gentlewoman

    October 5, 2006 at 7:55 pm

    Foley is not gay. Despite the lie from his mouthpiece lawyer, he is a pedophile. There is a difference. Duh!

  47. harry johnson

    October 5, 2006 at 7:59 pm

    its the gop that is in power, they hold all the branches of government – whatever happened and happens is on their watch. if the tables were turned it would be the right on a feeding frenzy. i recall how people went on and on about bill clinton and his indescretions – now this matter is far far worse because it involves minors and the real partisans on this blog who would give the gop a pass by saying stuff like “well i’m sure you could find stuff the dems did just as worse.” – that is crap – jim wright was forced to step down because of a book deal for pete’s sake, how much worse is pedophilia and rampant deceit. the gop is made up of mindless zombies who beleive whatever their dog handlers tell them. pitiful.

  48. Doubtom

    October 5, 2006 at 8:02 pm

    Whatever Foley’s shortcomings, give him credit for being bright enough to get a “good jewish lawyer”.

  49. Deceived and disgraced by the GOP

    October 5, 2006 at 8:11 pm

    Tar and feathers should be applied liberally, not conservatively, to all letcherous congressional incumbents followed by imprisonment at Guantanamo Bay. No warnings, warrants, notices or judicial or legislative oversights.

    Serving these letcherous scoundrels their own medicine would serve the citizenry of this country well.

    Want to join or vote for the GOP – Group of Pedophiles!

  50. Jason Shapiro

    October 5, 2006 at 8:13 pm

    Harry Johnson, I agree except that these nasty little people are not “zombies,” they are craven, venal, greedy little nazis but they are fully conscious of everything they do and the reasons why they do it. That is the scariest part – their clear-eyed intentionality to roll over America, maintain complete and unfettered control, and turn this country into a right wing theocratic dictatorship.

  51. Ted Remington

    October 5, 2006 at 8:57 pm

    Oh, I cannot believe it! Hastert is blaming Bill Clinton now. This is just too much. It has ceased to be a political scandal and has become a political farce. If Bill is getting blame for this can Hillary be far behind? TOO rich. WAY too rich.

  52. Ted

    October 5, 2006 at 8:58 pm

    David Pettengill-

    It was your hero President Nixon that cut and ran from Vietnam, it was your hero President Reagan that cut and ran from Lebanon after the Marine compound was bombed killing 270 Marines, it was your hero President H. W. Bush that cut and ran from Kuait and didn’t finish the war he started.

    Who cares about the past!! Try living into the future it is quite refreshing to do so. You will actually be able to walk upright once you have pulled your head out of your pASSt.

  53. R Blandy

    October 5, 2006 at 9:26 pm

    All State politics are local and depend on the personalities of the politicians up for election and the unique issues facing the voters in that particular State. The Foley matter will have little or no effect on who people vote for in their own State elections. The Democrats may make some slight gains but probably won’t recapture either house of Congress. Face the facts. President Bush won’t be impeached before the end of his term and Hillary won’t be able to beat either Giuliani or McCain in 2008.

  54. Ted

    October 5, 2006 at 10:27 pm

    R. Blandy –

    After reading your rant I just had to go look it up:

    Arrogance:
    1.) Making or disposed to make claims to unwarranted importance or consideration out of overbearing pride.

    2.) Stubborn assertion of opinion or belief

    Let me try it. Bush and Cheney will be impeached Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House will become President for the remainder of Bush’s term selecting Hillary Clinton as her Vice President. Pelosi will then be elected for 2 consecutive 4 year terms. Then Hillary will be elected for 2 consecutive terms and the Republicans will suffer miserably for the entire 18 years.

    I like my arrogant fantasy better than yours.

  55. Dave

    October 5, 2006 at 10:54 pm

    The whole thing is just a bunch of feces fog. It turns out that the messages/emails were a prank played by the page(s) on Foley because he was homosexual.

    Dave
    Mountaineer

  56. Steve-o

    October 6, 2006 at 12:00 am

    >>it seems that the bums, crooks and perverts are now making up an ever more disproportionate share of the whole

  57. spider

    October 6, 2006 at 12:12 am

    Dave-
    Please, if you’re going to parrot Drudge/GOP talking points, at least cite them:
    http://www.drudgereport.com/page.htm
    Also note the following: this is a *CLAIM*, as even Drudge admits. Even so, Drudge tells us that:
    “The prank scenario only applies to the Edmund IM sessions and does not necessarily apply to any other exchanges between the former congressman and others.”

  58. Fred P

    October 6, 2006 at 12:16 am

    @R Blandy “The Foley matter will have little or no effect on who people vote for in their own State elections.”

    The question is not as much “who people vote for” but “what people will vote”. The Foley matter, if dragged out, may end up keeping a significant number of otherwise loyal Republicans at home/work, and/or a significant number of otherwise non-voting Democrats into the voting booth.

    However, speaking for myself, national politics is having a large impact on how I’ll vote. Several of my intended votes have changed due to the “Detainee Treatment Act” having been passed (I don’t care about Foley, unless he actually committed a crime, or there was a high-level cover-up).

  59. Talcott

    October 6, 2006 at 12:29 am

    Oversight for Profit….the only thing a Republican Majority is good for.

  60. C. Lazzaroni

    October 6, 2006 at 12:40 am

    You republicians & democrats make it hard to believe either one of you. You both have been caught doing the same things, and then point fingers at each other. How can we encourage our children to go out and vote when all of the people we are supposed to vote for are dishonest and sexual preditors.

  61. Robin

    October 6, 2006 at 12:50 am

    OK, just how many elected republicians are gay and how and/or why did they protect their own? Follow up question, how does your sexual orientation affect your duty to perform as a member of the Congress? If you are pro gay on issues, then do we want you in Congress, representing the majority> I think not! For the majority is not gay! If you cannot put your sexual orientation behind you and serve the public as you were elected to do, then get out! You were not elected on a gay platform. This isn’t a Country waiting for the gays to take over. We are tolerant, but not to the detriment of our National standing. An openly gay person will never be elected to National office knowingly. Hell, this Country is so backwards that it wont elect a Black or Woman to the Presidency…much less a gay.

  62. Fred P

    October 6, 2006 at 1:03 am

    @Fred P (my last comment)

    I was wrong. See “Voters say scandals will affect votes”: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/R/REPUBLICANS_AP_POLL?SITE=IADES&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

    @Robin-
    At least one openly gay Senator and several Representatives have been elected at a federal level. The most trivial example in this case is Mark Foley himself, who admitted to being gay prior to his last election to office: “Mr Foley’s office has since confirmed he is gay” – published August 8, 2004 http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0808-01.htm

  63. Jim

    October 6, 2006 at 1:39 am

    Best news in the world…Hastert gonna stay and fight it out!!! This makes sure the Foley/Republican scandal stays on top of the news cycle thru the elections. This is the best news for changing the balance of power in Congress….

    Even better…the conservative call that the Dems will out themselves by slamming the situation too much will be completely blown out of the water…there will be more calls from the neocons that he walks that from the dems…the neocons will be right…Hastert in there is a target that no one needs to bring up…it is the elephant in the room literally!!!

    How dumb can the GOP be to let Hastert survive???? I love it!!!! It assures a Dem landslide…it assures Bush and Chaney being impeached…and thereby assures Nancy Pelosi as the first female president which will assure reelection in 2008…..

  64. Fred P

    October 6, 2006 at 1:43 am

    @Jim-
    There are still a number of weeks prior to election; something else bigger (or more recent) could well happen. However, I would not be surprised if this puts the Republican control of the Senate in jeopardy.

  65. Fred Goepfert

    October 6, 2006 at 1:48 am

    Nice try Dem-Libs.
    Don’t let the facts get in your way.

    Fact: There were e-mails followed by IM’s, but at a later time.

    Fact: The e-mails were deemed overly friendly and they were not sexual in nature. On that evidence Hastert had Foly warned to stop and do it no more.

    Fact: Foley later wrote sexually explicit IM’s to the page, who was, at the time of receipt, over 18.

    Fact: Hastert did not see the IM’s until they were turned in by the parents,
    after the story broke on ABC.

    Hastert acted properly.
    Foley is a homosexual NAMBLA type pederast wanna-be.

    Now lets consider Teddy Kennedy, who drove a female down to a deserted place (why?), who missed a turn,(why?), and who escaped from the vehicle, leaving her to drown.

    Don’t you Dem-Libs think he should resign?

  66. Jim

    October 6, 2006 at 1:51 am

    Churchill said it best: Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. I’ve been a Republican all my life but this gang of criminals isn’t waht the Republican party USED to be all about. THROW THE BUMS OUT!!

  67. gaydar

    October 6, 2006 at 2:18 am

    By the way Matt Drudge is gay.
    Just another self loathing homosexual.

  68. R S

    October 6, 2006 at 4:15 am

    What Foley did was a crime. Hastert covered the crime up. please understand, to be GAY IS desire to as A male to have sex with another male or boy AND ITS NOT NORMAL, BUT THE REPUBLICONS WOULD HAVE YOU BELIEVE IT IS NORMAL, its NOT morally correct, and it Is UN-Godly, its EVIL in its own present state and condition because GOD says it is.. Now anyone who goes out and votes for these people like hastert, FOLEY or who want hastert to remain is Un-GODLY as well. Only an idiot would vote for the republican people knowing that they wanted to sexually assault the voters children (boys) an this is what hastert covered up. Now you got these idiots saying the dems blew it…. The REPUBLICONS MUST be held accountable. THERE ARE soldiers dying in iraq and afgan and we’ve got republicanS seeking boys to sexually assault. To think that foley didnt want other boys sexually is to say he is MOT gay YET HIS ATTORNEY DECLARED OH HIS BEHALF HE IS GAY, THE EMAILS AND IMs ARE CLEAR INDICATORS THAT HE IS ALSO GAY.. ha ha ha ha ha you republicons need to look in the broken mirror and really UNDERSTAND THAT THERE IS NO HONOR IN ANY LIES told, NOR IS THERE HONOR IN SUPPORTING THOSE WHO LIES, NOR IS THERE ANY HONOR IN HAVING SOLDIERS DIE FOR LIES… WHAT HAVE YOU DONE.. republican LEADERS HAS THE NERVE TO SAY GOD BLESS AMERICA WHILE THEY SUPPORT YOU REPUBLICaN GAY MEN IN POLITICAL POWER AS LEADERS an IT is AN ABOMINATION UNTO GODS SIGHT AND A HYPOCRACY AS THE SOLDIERS YET STILL DIE…. WAKE UP PEOPLE GET RID OF THE BOMBS, THE DIRTY MEN POSING AS REPUBLICANS but are NOTHING MORE THEN GAY BANGERS AND SUPPORTERS OF GAY MEN WHO WANT BOYS FOR SEX…..shouldnt the president state this is a crime, no resignations requred because they must be FIRED WITHOUT PAY….WAKE UP AMERICA, WE HAVE BEEN HAD LONG ENOUGH BY THIS IMPOSTEROUS PARTY OF GAY MEN AND GAY SUPPORTERS. BECAUSE THEY SHOULD BE FIRED AN NOT ALLOWED TO RESIGN….SO ACT CONGRESS, IF IM WRONG LEAVE THEM IN THERE AND BRING BACK FOLEY AND KEEP THE PAGES AND DESTROY THE EMAILS…