Florida GOP Congressman resigns amid email sex scandal

A Florida Republican Congressman who tried first to lie his way out of a batch of suggestive emails sent to a 16-year-old male Congressional page resigned today rather than face prosecution and an ethics investigation into his conduct.

As DAVID ESPO and JIM KUHNHENN of The Associated Press Report:

Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., resigned from Congress on Friday, effective immediately, in the wake of questions about e-mails he wrote a former male page.

"I am deeply sorry and I apologize for letting down my family and the people of Florida I have had the privilege to represent," he said in a statement issued by his office.

The two-sentence statement did not refer to the e-mails and gave no reason for Foley’s decision to abruptly abandon a flourishing career in Congress.

Foley, 52, had been a shoo-in for a new term until the e-mail correspondence surfaced in recent days.

His resignation comes less than six weeks before the elections. It was not clear how Republicans would fill his spot on the November ballot.

Campaign aides had previously acknowledged that the Republican congressman e-mailed the former Capitol page five times, but had said there was nothing inappropriate about the exchange. The page was 16 at the time of the e-mail correspondence.

It was not clear what prompted Foley to abruptly decide to give up a successful career in the House.

Foley, who represents an area around Palm Beach County, e-mailed the page in August 2005. The page had worked for Rep. Rodney Alexander (news, bio, voting record), R-La., and Foley asked him how he was doing after Hurricane Katrina and what he wanted for his birthday. The congressman also asked the boy to send a photo of himself, according to excerpts of the e-mails that were originally released by ABC News.

Foley’s aides initially blamed Democratic rival Tim Mahoney and Democrats with attempting to smear the congressman before the election.

The e-mails were posted Friday on Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington’s Web site after ABC News reported their existence. The group asked the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct to investigate the exchange Foley had with the boy, who served as a page for Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-La.

"The House of Representatives has an obligation to protect the teenagers who come to Congress to learn about the legislative process," the group wrote, adding that the committee, "must investigate any allegation that a page has been subjected to sexual advances by members of the House."

According to the CREW posting, the boy e-mailed a colleague in Alexander’s office about Foley’s e-mails, saying, "This freaked me out." On the request for a photo, the boy repeated the word "sick" 13 times.

He said Foley asked for his e-mail when the boy gave him a thank you card. The boy also said Foley wrote that he e-mailed another page.

"he’s such a nice guy," Foley wrote about the other boy. "acts much older than his age…and hes in really great shape…i am just finished riding my bike on a 25 mile journey now heading to the gym…whats school like for you this year?"

In other e-mails, Foley wrote, "I am back in Florida now…its nice here…been raining today…it sounds like you will have some fun over the next few weeks…how old are you now?" and "how are you weathering the hurricane…are you safe…send me an email pic of you as well."

What the boy wrote to Foley, who is single, wasn’t available. The e-mails were sent from Foley’s personal account, which Foley spokesman Jason Kello says he uses to communicate with many people, including Gov. Jeb Bush.

"They have taken these e-mails out of context in order to smear a good man," said Kello, who described the exchange as "nonchalant, casual." He said Foley didn’t save his e-mails or the boy’s response.

Efforts to reach the boy were unsuccessful, but he told the St. Petersburg Times last November, "I thought it was very inappropriate. After the one about the picture, I decided to stop e-mailing him back." The Times didn’t publish the comments until Friday.

The campaign for Mahoney, who trails Foley in the polls, said it didn’t release the e-mails and wouldn’t make them part of the campaign. In a statement released by Mahoney spokesman Jessica Santillo, the campaign referred to the boy as an "alleged victim."

"The seriousness of these allegations goes far beyond the tit for tat of a political campaign," Santillo said. "This is a matter for the appropriate authorities to investigate. I believe Mr. Foley deserves the benefit of the doubt until these allegations are proven true or false."

Alexander’s chief of staff, Royal Alexander, didn’t return several calls to his cell phone Thursday and Friday seeking comment. Alexander’s press secretary, Adam Terry, didn’t return an e-mail or phone messages. Alexander and Foley wouldn’t talk to reporters while the House was in session Thursday and Foley didn’t return calls to his cell phone.

Kello disputed the claim that the e-mails weren’t distributed by the Mahoney campaign.

"They’ve been shopping this around to reporters for weeks now. They want a headline and that’s it. It’s a political smear campaign of the worst kind," Kello said.

___

Associated Press Writer Brendan Farrington in Florida contributed to this report.


Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press

19 Responses to "Florida GOP Congressman resigns amid email sex scandal"

  1. Idiotland  September 30, 2006 at 11:29 am

    GOP=Grand Old Pedophiles

  2. ebbtide  September 30, 2006 at 1:39 pm

    Not a surprise surely. This story, in tandem with George Allen’s language struggles are merely a short cut to the heart of the party. We don’t have to witness endless hours of Fox News chatter about Clinton’s indiscretions. There’s no way to make these events digestible to middle America, so they’ll be dismissed as aberations.

    As an aside, the most enjoyable development of recent weeks is to witness the raw AMBITION of Senator Allen on display–this man wants to be PRESIDENT SO badly that it almost hurts to watch, eh?

  3. Michael Alexander  September 30, 2006 at 5:09 pm

    Is it any wonder why these morally contemptible congressional miscreants are betraying their oath to the constitution when they can be blackmailed so easily? Vote them all out, otherwise the country is lost.

  4. checkers  September 30, 2006 at 5:44 pm

    This is not a surprise, remember in 1989 the scandal of the boy prostituion ring that went all the way to the Bush Sr. and Reagan admin. Perverts all of them, greedy, vile, users of human beings.

  5. JimZ  September 30, 2006 at 8:49 pm

    On CNN this morning, they said Foley was the chair/head of the U.S. House Caucus for Missing & Exploited Children, as Marion in Savannah pointed out earlier.

    Once again, things are looking hypocritical for the “family values” party. I seriously doubt he would resign unless he there was some real “smoking gun” guilt there, although that opens up to make one wonder why William Jefferson, D-LA, hasn’t resigned yet over all the cash found in his freezer? Geez everyone in Louisiana knows that guy and his family are about as corrupt as they come. They got their hands in all kinds of stuff going on there. Doesn’t make the Dems look good to keep him around and try to make mileage out of the Foley matter.

    Now the matter has gone to the “House Ethics Committee”, an oxymoron at best, where it will probably die, other than what the Dems can exploit about it before the election.

    Both major parties embarass us all. Dump ‘em in November!

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    jonny

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  11. jason karov  September 29, 2006 at 11:42 pm

    How incredibly STUPID would you have to be to risk your congressional career over this? Of course Clinton was no better.
    How many 50 year old, balding, fat middle aged men email
    to 16 year old boys and ask for their pictures…and what would their motive be?
    If you haven’t done anything wrong, then why resign?

  12. SharonB  September 29, 2006 at 11:45 pm

    Maybe the Repugs can draft Alan Keyes or Randall Terry for a run. HAWWW!

  13. keith  September 30, 2006 at 12:18 am

    Jason, you’ve asked the very same question I have. If this Congressman is so innocent then why resign?

    As damning as the “evidence” against him appears at first glance, he could just be a very nice, friendly Congressman. I might even be willing to give they guy the benefit of the doubt…that is, if he hadn’t now abruptly resigned.

    As I’m sure the Congressman is well aware, smear campaigns only “stick” if the “smear” happens to also be true.

  14. Jim  September 30, 2006 at 12:24 am

    This is not similar to Clinton….if what has been printed in the AP report is true then Congressman Foley is a sexual predator stalking children. This is a far far different kettle of fish.

  15. Boz  September 30, 2006 at 12:52 am

    LOL, luv how Clinton has to be interjected ..Apples and oranges and irrelevant really…Now if you want to bring up that chick in NY running for AG of that state and how tried to get her hubby bugged due to suspicions using Bernie and then declaring NO FED INVESTIGATIONS SHOULD PERMEATE INTO PRIVATE LIVES but wants the leaker investigated, LOL but this character, Foley…evidently there are copies of IM’s as well as the EMAILS….talk about stupid perpings…perhaps he should watch that NBC series on sexual predators and how foolish they are even when even after having seen those reports, they continue online and SHOW UP AT THE DOOR….This guy not exactly one would WANT representing them regarding legislation matters for sure!!!

  16. Marion in Savannah  September 30, 2006 at 3:12 am

    It’s not only the benign-sounding e-mails quoted in this article. ABC News has text of an instant message exchange that is disgusting enough to require an “adults with strong stomachs only” type of disclaimer. This sicko is a pig of the highest order. To make it even worse, wasn’t he a biggie in the Center For Missing and Exploited Children? Well, he’s got some personal knowledge of the “exploited” part. He is beneath contempt.

  17. Marion in Savannah  September 30, 2006 at 3:14 am

    It’s not only the benign-sounding e-mails quoted in this article. ABC News has text of an instant message exchange that is disgusting enough to require an “adults with strong stomachs only” type of disclaimer. This sicko is a pig of the highest order. To make it even worse, wasn’t he a biggie in the Center For Missing and Exploited Children? Well, he’s got some personal knowledge of the “exploited” part. He is beneath contempt.

  18. Marion in Savannah  September 30, 2006 at 3:15 am

    It’s not only the benign-sounding e-mails quoted in this article. ABC News has text of an instant message exchange that is disgusting enough to require an “adults with strong stomachs only” type of disclaimer. This sicko is a pig of the highest order. To make it even worse, wasn’t he a biggie in the Center For Missing and Exploited Children? Well, he’s got some personal knowledge of the “exploited” part. He is beneath contempt.

  19. Jason Shapiro  September 30, 2006 at 5:33 am

    Hypocrites! These damn sanctimonious, lying republikan hypocrites. Let’s see where the those phony “family values, holier-than-thou” folks come out with respect to this scumbag. This is the sort of low life republikans elevate to leadershio roles (deputy whip). Anyone remember Ernst Roehm, head of Hitler’s SA (brownshirts)? He was the same type of sicko. Is there a pattern here? You betcha.

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