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Rep. Jim Kolbe, the only openly-gay Republican member of Congress, knew about Rep. Mark Foley’s sexually-explicit emails to young male pages at least six years ago and told the now former Congressman to cut it out.
Kolbe, who once invited pages to use his home when he was out of town, served as a Congressional page.
Reports Jonathan Weisman of The Washington Post:
A spokeswoman for Kolbe (R-Ariz.) confirmed yesterday that a former page showed the congressman Internet messages that had made the youth feel uncomfortable with the direction Foley (R-Fla.) was taking their e-mail relationship. Last week, when the Foley matter erupted, a Kolbe staff member suggested to the former page that he take the matter to the clerk of the House, Karen Haas, said Kolbe’s press secretary, Korenna Cline.
The revelation pushes back by at least five years the date when a member of Congress has acknowledged learning of Foley’s behavior with former pages. A timeline issued by House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) suggested that the first lawmakers to know, Rep. John M. Shimkus (R-Ill.), the chairman of the House Page Board, and Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-La.), became aware of "over-friendly" e-mails only last fall. It also expands the universe of players in the drama beyond members, either in leadership or on the page board.
A source with direct knowledge of Kolbe’s involvement said the messages shared with Kolbe were sexually explicit, and he read the contents to The Washington Post under the condition that they not be reprinted. But Cline denied the source’s characterization, saying only that the messages had made the former page feel uncomfortable. Nevertheless, she said, "corrective action" was taken. Cline said she has not yet determined whether that action went beyond Kolbe’s confrontation with Foley.
In interviews with The Post last week, multiple pages identified Kolbe as a close friend and personal confidante who was one of the only members of Congress to take any interest in them. A former page himself, Kolbe offered to mentor pages and kept in touch with some of them after they left the program, according to the interviews.
Kolbe once invited four former pages to make use of his Washington home while he was out of town, according to an instant message between Foley and another former page, Jordan Edmund, in January 2002. The pages planned to attend a first-year reunion of their page class. But because of a snowstorm, they did not take Kolbe up on his offer, according to one of the four pages.
Cline said one of the youths invited was a former page of Kolbe’s. Because the congressman frequently travels on weekends, either to his Arizona ranch or abroad, the house is often available to friends, constituents, staffers and former staff members, such as a former page, she said.
Kolbe, the only openly gay Republican in Congress, is retiring at the end of the year.