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Hastert: Hell no, I won’t go

By LARRY MARGASAK

The House ethics committee opened an expansive investigation into the unfolding page sex scandal Thursday, approving nearly four dozen subpoenas for witnesses and documents as House Speaker Dennis Hastert held his ground against pressure to resign.

Sex scandals, blow jobs and the ’stench of hypocrisy’

Former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, the shameless hypocrite who left Congress under a cloud of ethical questions and publicly chastised Bill Clinton while sneaking out on his wife and nailing a House Agriculture Committee staffer, is now claiming Democrats have bigger sex scandals than Republicans.

Democrats lead in 11 of 15 key House races

Democrats lead in races for 11 of 15 crucial Republican-held U.S. House seats a month before Nov. 7 elections, putting them within reach of seizing control of the chamber, according to Reuters/Zogby polls released Wednesday.

Many Pennsylvanians just don’t like Rick Santorum

By KIMBERLY HEFLING

Rick Santorum has spent 12 years in the Senate — and millions of dollars on TV ads for a third term. Yet a lot of Pennsylvania voters just plain don’t like him.

Polls show Santorum’s approval rating is in the 30s, just about what it was a year ago. Roughly the same number of voters view him unfavorably as favorably.

Former detainee details abuse

Javaid Iqbal’s lawyers say the Pakistani cable repairman was snatched in the post-September 11 dragnet and held for over a year at a Brooklyn detention center, where guards beat him mercilessly.

GOP insiders agree: Hastert cannot survive scandal

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.