By LEE BOWMAN
The issue of who knew what and when about Rep. Mark Foley’s contacts with House pages is at the crux of a still-evolving investigation and political storm engulfing Republican leaders.
While new details and disclosures are likely, below is a timeline of what’s come out about the matter so far.
2001 _ A former page who worked in the House in 2001-2002 says a Republican staff member warned pages "to watch out for Congressman Mark Foley." He says they were told "don’t get too wrapped up in him being too nice to you and all that kind of stuff."
2003 _ Foley has sexually explicit instant-messaging exchanges with at least one underage boy who had worked as a congressional page. Two other former pages have reported they were aware of suggestive e-mails being sent to "three or four" pages from the 2001-2002 class.
August/Summer 2005 _ Foley sends e-mails to a 16-year-old Louisiana boy who had been a page. Among other things, he asked the boy what he wanted for his birthday, talked to the teenager about another boy being "in great shape" and asked the former page to send him a photo.
September 2005 _ The Louisiana boy contacts staff in the Washington office of his congressman, Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-La., about the e-mails from Foley. He forwards them, calling them "sick" 13 times and saying "This freaks me out." Alexander contacts the boy and his parents.
September 2005 _ Royal Alexander, the congressman’s chief of staff, calls Tim Kennedy, a staff assistant to House Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois, informing him that he had an e-mail exchange between Foley and a former House page that was of concern, but does not reveal the specific text.
After consulting with Hastert’s counsel, the speaker’s deputy chief of staff, Mike Stokke, meets with Alexander’s chief of staff, but again does not discuss the specific content of the e-mail. Stokke arranges a meeting between House Clerk Jeff Trandahl and Royal Alexander, but Alexander, citing the boy’s privacy concerns, declined to show the text, and described the exchange only as "over-friendly" and said the family wanted the contact to stop. Trandahl asked if the e-mail exchange was sexual in nature and was assured it was not, according to Hastert’s official account of the handling of the matter.
September 2005 _ Trandahl, who is in charge of the page operation, contacts Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., chairman of the House Page Board, to discuss the matter. They set up a meeting with Foley and tell him that to avoid any appearance of impropriety and at the request of the parents, to cease any communication with the young man. Rep. Dale Kildee of Michigan, the only Democrat on the page board, is not informed about the matter.
November 2005 _ Copies of the e-mail exchanges with the former page and Foley are given to the St. Petersburg Times in Florida. Editors assign two reporters to investigate. They talk to the boy and his family, but the family refuses to allow the boy to be identified by name. The paper decides not to publish such serious allegations using an unnamed source.
February-March 2006 _ Rep. Alexander tells Rep. Tom Reynolds of New York, chairman of the National Republican Campaign Committee, about "the existence of e-mails between Foley and the former page from Alexander’s district. Reynolds tells Speaker Hastert about the e-mails and about his conversation with Alexander, and tells Hastert that the actions by the clerk and Shimkus had resolved the matter.
May 10, 2006 _ Reynold’s personal political action committee, TOMPAC, donates $5,000 to Foley’s re-election campaign
July 21, 2006 _ The Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group, sends the suggestive e-mails via the Internet to a special agent in the FBI’s Washington field office. CREW said it had received those e-mails that same day from a "third party" who had received them from a congressional staffer.
July 27, 2006 _ Foley’s political action committee donates $100,000 to the Republican congressional campaign committee chaired by Reynolds.
July 27, 2006 _ Foley, as co-chairman of the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children’s Caucus, attends a signing ceremony at the White House for the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, which he helped author.
Sept. 28, 2006 _ ABCNews.com publishes e-mails between Foley and the former page from Louisiana. Other news organizations that have been given the material move on the story, which Foley initially dismisses as a smear effort by his Democratic rival.
Sept. 29, 2006 _ ABC and Internet blogs publish sexually explicit instant messages between Foley and several former pages. Foley abruptly sends a letter of resignation to Hastert, who initially says he was not aware until the week before of allegations of improper behavior by Foley.
Sept. 30, 2006 _ Hastert issues a detailed account of how House officials handled the e-mail complaint about Foley from the Louisiana page. It concludes: "No one was ever made aware of any sexually-explicit e-mail or text messages at any time."
Hastert and other House Republican leaders issue a statement calling Foley’s communications with former pages "an obscene breach of trust" and call for the House Page Board and the House ethics committee to take additional actions.
Oct. 1, 2006 _ Hastert, in a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales that notes Foley is now out of the reach of Congress to investigate, asks for the Justice Department to examine "Mr. Foley’s conduct with current and former House pages to determine to what extent any of his actions violated federal law." In a second letter, he asks Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to see if any state laws were broken.
Oct. 2, 2006 _ After meeting with Shimkus to discuss possible additional safeguards for pages, including a hotline to report misconduct against them, Hastert says: "Congressman Foley duped a lot of people. I’ve known him for all the years he has worked in this House and he deceived me, too."
Oct. 2 _ Foley, through an attorney, announces that he has checked himself into a rehab facility "for immediate treatment for alcoholism and other behavioral problems."
Oct. 2 _ CREW sends a letter to the inspector general of the Justice Department requesting an investigation into why the FBI did not initiate an investigation of Foley’s contacts with minors until now.