Federal prosecutors in Arizona have opened a preliminary investigation into a camping trip that an Arizona lawmaker took with two former pages and others in 1996, according to a law enforcement official.

Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., took the former pages as well as staff members and National Park Service officials on a Fourth of July rafting trip in the Grand Canyon in 1996, his spokeswoman Korenna Cline said Friday.

101406camping.jpgAn allegation related to the trip was given to the U.S. attorney’s office in Phoenix, but it was not immediately clear whether it concerned any contention of improper activity by Kolbe.

The official described the inquiry as preliminary and far narrower in scope than the federal investigation into former Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., who resigned two weeks ago amid reports about sexually explicit e-mails he sent to pages.

A second law enforcement official said the 1996 trip may be too old to investigate as a criminal action. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation. A Justice Department spokeswoman declined comment.

Cline said the rafting party included five current staffers, two former pages and Kolbe’s sister. Nothing inappropriate happened on the trip, she said. She did not know who the pages were or what year they worked for Kolbe, but she said they paid their own way.

Beth Kolbe, the congressman’s younger sister who was on the three-night trip, said nothing inappropriate happened and that she had not heard of any concerns from anyone until the story of the camping trip appeared in the media.

“It’s preposterous,” she said of any allegations that taking the pages along was inappropriate.

She said the group included the then-deputy park superintendent and two rangers, who served as guides and interpreters. She said it was too hot to sleep in tents, so everyone slept out in the open by the water.

At the time of the trip, Rep. Kolbe served on a subcommittee that oversaw the national park system. He visited the park to look at National Park Service operations and fire reconnaissance.

Kolbe, 64, is the only openly gay Republican in Congress.

He was pulled into the unfolding Foley scandal when he said this week that a former page had complained in 2001 or 2002 about e-mails the page had received from Foley that made him feel uncomfortable. Kolbe said he referred the matter to the House clerk and that someone from Kolbe’s office confronted Foley himself.

Kolbe, who is retiring this year after 22 years in the House, was a page from 1958 to 1960 for Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater.

He served on the board that oversees the page program between 1995 and February 2001. He frequently offers his home to former pages, interns, constituents and colleagues visiting Washington.

He is traveling in Europe and has declined interviews. Cline said he had not hired a lawyer in the matter.

© 2006 The Associated Press


  1. Has nobody else noticed the feet in the picture? Whoever has the larger set of feet is wearing them backwards!

    And yes, there’s absolutely no relevancy to this.

  2. This is really getting rediculous- this crap keeps going no one will want to take any kid under the age of 18 any where or touch them even in a high five!
    Being gay is not a friggin’ crime-this kind of story where there was no impropriety is a waste of everybody’s time!

  3. It is obvious no hanky panky was involved in this and being gay isn’t a crime; being a pedophile is a crime. Hope Kolbe realizes it is his own party causing the investigation into him cause being a gay republican don’t sit too well with the Bushies. We had a great candidate in our local election but he was shot down by the Bushie type because he was gay and guess what – the terror they voted in and got elected, in very unethical ways, is dumber than a box of rocks and he ain’t they fair haired boy. They should have not been so Bushie type but karma sure does bit you in the butt. Maybe Kolbe will see his party for what they are.

  4. So the witchhunt is on. A camping trip under investigation? 10 years ago? With pages or ex-pages paying their own way, and way over the age-of-consent in any case? Just what is it that may have happend? Shouldn’t every Boy Scout camping trip that ever happened be investigated too?

    This is so preposterous it could only happen here in enlightened America.

  5. Gays are not a threat. They
    never have been and never will be..pedphiles on the other hand are a threat and always will be,and therein lies a big world of difference! These type stories are not only outlandish,but abosolutely ridiculous!

  6. Yes, the picture may be a bit over the top but sometimes we “libs” just get so giddy over the GOP corruption and how they are eating their own that we tend to use some of their tactics. You know if Kolbe were a Dem the righties would be making all kinds of accusations and innuendos regarding the camping trip. Hey, we’re only human!

  7. Come on now, E.L.Ross is correct needn’t be in ‘Blue’; not only that the picture is a little much and not necessary.

  8. There is a big difference between homosexuality and pedophilia. Molestation is largely committed by straight men (95%). This story is not relevant.

  9. And this story is important…how?

    No juicy facts of impropiety. If there’s nothing improper, then let’s move along…

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