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Don’t expect a quick conclusion to Foleygate

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October 7, 2006

By LISA HOFFMAN

As political ads capitalizing on the Mark Foley sex scandal prepared Friday to air across the country, the gears of a two-pronged federal investigation into the X-rated conversations the former lawmaker held with congressional pages started to turn.

But anyone looking for fast results from the FBI and House ethics committee probes of the circumstances surrounding contacts between the former House GOP lawmaker and male teenagers will be disappointed.


All signs Friday showed that both investigations are proceeding methodically, with the focus on conducting interviews and assembling documents that, in turn, will be analyzed to answer the questions: Did Foley commit a crime by sending sexually explicit online messages to the youths? Did the now-disgraced Florida politician have in-person sex with them? Did House GOP leaders engage in a cover-up, break ethical rules or otherwise shirk their duties?

"We are working on a preliminary review," said Heather Smith, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which is assisting the FBI in gathering information in the case.

That is the case, as well, for the FBI, which is contacting former pages who have been linked to Foley, according to news reports. Famed Oklahoma defense attorney Stephen Jones told CNN Friday that his client, a former page from California, may meet with the FBI next week.

On Capitol Hill, a deliberate pace is also being followed. A day after it voted to issue at least 44 subpoenas for documents and interviews of Capitol Hill personnel, the House ethics committee also had no developments to report.

Part of the reason for the measured approach is the bitter taste that remains on the Hill after a May 20 search of another congressman’s office by the FBI.

Then, agents gave no notice to House leaders when they served a warrant late on a Saturday night to search the House office of Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., under federal investigation for accepting bribes.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi _ political adversaries of the most acid sort on most days _ later stood shoulder-to-shoulder to denounce the raid as a violation of the constitutional separation of legislative and executive branch powers.

If Foley’s personal office in the Cannon House Office Building has been searched, no one is saying so. House administrative officials have said his office has been sealed since his resignation Sept. 29.

Meanwhile, the political fallout from the seamy scandal spread past Washington.

In Ohio, where seven-term GOP Rep. Deborah Pryce is in a tough contest, her Democratic opponent, Mary Jo Kilroy, will launch ads Saturday on Christian radio stations that accuse Pryce, a member of the embattled House GOP leadership, with not doing enough to stop Foley’s electronic dalliances with youths from the page program.

In Minnesota, Patty Wetterling, a Democrat contender for an open House seat, is airing hard-edged ads that blast the GOP for "knowingly (ignoring) the welfare of children to protect their own power." Wetterling, whose son disappeared 17 years ago in a suspected abduction and has yet to be found, is slated to give the Democratic response Saturday to President Bush’s weekly radio address.

And in southern Indiana, the Democratic contender for GOP Rep. Mike Sodrel’s seat is depicting a broader taint, attacking Soldrel for refusing to return $77,000 in campaign contributions not from Foley specifically, but from the House leadership "who knew about but did nothing to stop sexual predator Congressman Foley."

(Contact Lisa Hoffman at HoffmanL(at)shns.com)

8 Responses to Don’t expect a quick conclusion to Foleygate

  1. roscoe

    October 8, 2006 at 1:02 pm

  2. South Point Man

    October 8, 2006 at 2:07 pm

  3. John

    October 8, 2006 at 8:25 pm

  4. Wayne K Dolik

    October 8, 2006 at 9:37 pm

  5. roscoe

    October 8, 2006 at 1:02 pm

    The most telling instance was a an interview done by Carlson of a Republican Colorado Congressman who said he was outraged with his party’s leadership–specifically Hastert and Frist–about a letter they wrote that guranteed some Indian tribe veto power over the border fence.

    You know things are going down hill for the GOP when you get one openly criticizing the leadership…

  6. South Point Man

    October 8, 2006 at 2:07 pm

    We don’t want a quick conclusion. We want this to drag out for as long as possible. And so come election day and assuming the machines haven’t been pre-rigged too badly to give false results and assuming nuclear war hasn’t happened, voters will vote out the genuinely grotesque and traitorous rubber stamp republican dominated congress.

  7. John

    October 8, 2006 at 8:25 pm

    I don’t like it that the Democrats are already calling Foley a “sexual predator.” He hasn’t been convicted of anything yet. And there’s confusion about whether Foley’s actions were even criminal. I’m glad he’s out, but Democrats ought to tone it down a bit. The media’s already doing a good job of condemning the man.

  8. Wayne K Dolik

    October 8, 2006 at 9:37 pm

    So much for family Values! Did Foley cut and run? I think not, according to many sorces it was going on for years.