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Foley Let Off the Hook

WASHINGTON – Former Rep. Mark Foley was described as a “ticking time bomb” for his sexual come-ons to male pages, but Republican lawmakers and aides for a decade failed to protect the teenagers vulnerable to his advances, the House ethics committee concluded yesterday.

Despite that finding, the panel said no rules had been broken and no one should be punished.

The committee harshly criticized Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), saying the evidence showed he was told of the problem months before he acknowledged learning of Foley’s questionable e-mail messages to a former Louisiana page.

It also rejected Hastert’s contention that he couldn’t recall separate warnings from two House Republican leaders.

Hastert said he was pleased the committee found “there was no violation of any House rules by any member or staff.”

He added that no evidence was uncovered that salacious instant messages from Foley – which surfaced after the scandal became public – were known to any House member or employee before that time.

But the committee concluded that Hastert’s chief of staff, Scott Palmer, was told about Foley’s inappropriate conduct in 2002 or 2003 – a finding based on testimony from Foley’s former chief of staff, Kirk Fordham.

Overall, the evidence shows that “concerns began to arise about Rep. Foley’s interactions with pages or other young male staff members” shortly after he took office in 1995, according to the committee report.

The report, prepared by a four-member subcommittee, described “a disconcerting unwillingness to take responsibility for resolving issues regarding Foley’s conduct.”

Lawmakers and aides “failed to exercise appropriate diligence and oversight” regarding the interactions between Foley and pages, the report said.

Although the committee recommended no punishments, it said the evidence would have subjected Foley to discipline if the Florida Republican had not resigned – taking himself out of the House’s jurisdiction.
 

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