Saturday, September 30, 2006

GOP Leadership Did Know About Congressman Foley's Sexual Emails To Pages

Via Political Wire, Roll Call reports that

At least four Republican House Members, one senior GOP aide and a former top officer of the House were aware of the allegations about Foley that prompted the initial reporting regarding his e-mail contacts with a 16-year-old House page. They include: Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds (N.Y.) and Reps. Rodney Alexander (R-La.) and John Shimkus (R-Ill.), as well as a senior aide to Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and former Clerk of the House Jeff Trandahl.

It's one thing if the GOP leadership learned of Foley's behavior and took action to stop it. If that were the case, then I would say the scandal is limited to one sick individual who took advantage of his position of power to abuse children, but at least the people above him took responsiblity and put a stop to the criminal behavior.

It's another altogether if the Republican leadership knew about these emails for a year and did nothing to stop Foley. It's even worse if they knew about these emails for a year and left Foley as co-chair of the House committee on missing and exploited children.

Unfortunately for Republicans, the Roll Call report says the latter is the case. The House Majority Leader knew about these emails to the pages, the senior aide to the Speaker of the House knew about these emails to the pages, the chairman of the Natinoal Republican Congrssional Committee knew about these emails to the pages. Roll Call reports Democrats were not told about the emails.

This is the Republican braintrust in the House of Representatives we're talking about here who knew that one of their members was sending emails of a sexual nature to underage boys and seemingly did nothing to stop him.

This scandal really threatens to engulf Republicans at the worst possible time before the midterm elections. Tom Reynolds, the NRCC chairman who was alerted early about Foley's emails to pages, is in a tough battle for his own seat despite his Namthesque guarantee that Republicans will hold onto their majority in the House this year. If I were his opponent, I would be cutting ads right now on this scandal asking just what Tom Reynolds knew about Mark Foley's behavior, when he knew it, and what he did about it. And the ad would end like this:

"How can we trust Tom Reynolds to be our congressman in Washington when he can't even be trusted to stop a fellow congressman in his caucus from abusing underage boys? Isn't it obvious thatthe NRCC chairman cares more about maintaining a majority for his party than doing what's right for children?"

I'd like to see the pushback from Reynolds on that ad.

This is one of the major issues Dems need to be pushing in the next few weeks, along with the NIE report that states the Iraq war is making the U.S. less safe in the war on terror, the Woodward book that reports Bush/Rummy/Cheney completely fucked up the post-invasion phase of the war through their arrogance and incompetence and the bipartisan House report that tied convicted GOP superlobbyist Jack Abramoff to the White House nearly five hundred times over a four year period.

Let's see RNC chair Ken Mehlman deal with those fires. Considering he's implicated in the Abramoff scandal himself, we might not actually see him for a while. And considering he's had to quell rumors about his own sexuality, I bet he won't be the go-to guy to quell the Foley underage sex scandal either.

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