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FBI investigating Foley e-mail to teens


For a Free Scotland
WASHINGTON - The FBI is examining former Rep. Mark Foley's e-mail exchanges with teenagers to determine if they violated federal law, an agency spokesman said Sunday.

FBI spokesman Richard Kolko said the FBI is "conducting an assessment to see if there's been a violation of federal law." He had no further comment.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert requested Sunday that the Justice Department conduct an investigation into Foley's electronic messages to teenage boys - a lurid scandal that has put House Republicans in political peril.

"As Speaker of the House, I hereby request that the Department of Justice conduct an investigation of Mr. Foley's conduct with current and former House pages to determine to what extent any of his actions violated federal law," Hastert, R-Ill., wrote in a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

The White House and Democratic leaders in Congress also called Sunday for a criminal probe. White House counselor Dan Bartlett called the allegations against Foley shocking, but said President Bush hadn't learned of Foley's inappropriate e-mails to a 16-year-old boy and instant messages to other boys before the news broke last week.

"There is going to be, I'm sure, a criminal investigation into the particulars of this case," Bartlett said. "We need to make sure that the page system is one in which children come up here and can work and make sure that they are protected."

Foley, R-Fla., quit Congress on Friday after the disclosure of the e-mails he sent to a former congressional page and sexually suggestive instant messages he sent to other high school pages.

A law enforcement official, who asked for anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, said agents from the FBI's cyber division are looking into the text of some of the messages and checking to see how many e-mails were sent and how many computers were used. They are also looking to see if some of the teens who were sent messages will cooperate with the probe.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada called the Foley case "repugnant, but equally as bad is the possibility that Republican leaders in the House of Representatives knew there was a problem and ignored it to preserve a congressional seat this election year."

Reid said the case should be handled outside Congress.

"Under laws that Congressman Foley helped write, soliciting sex from a minor online is a federal crime," Reid said. "The alleged crimes here are far outside the scope of any congressional committee, and the attorney general should open a full-scale investigation immediately."

In his letter to Gonzales on Sunday, Hastert asked the Justice Department to investigate "who had specific knowledge of the content of any sexually explicit communications between Mr. Foley and any former or current House pages and what actions such individuals took, if any, to provide them to law enforcement."

The scope of the investigation, Hastert wrote, should include "any and all individuals who may have been aware of this matter - be they members of Congress, employees of the House of Representatives or anyone outside the Congress."

Hastert also sent a letter to Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on Sunday requesting that he "direct the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to conduct an investigation of Mr. Foley's conduct with current and former House pages."

Hastert maintained at first that he had learned only last week about the e-mails. But Rep. Thomas Reynolds, head of the House Republican election effort, said Saturday he had told Hastert months ago about concerns Foley sent inappropriate messages to a teenage boy. Reynolds, R-N.Y., is under attack from Democrats who say he did too little to protect the boy.

Hastert acknowledged over the weekend that his aides had, in fact, referred the matter to the House clerk and to the congressman who was chairman of the board that oversees the page program. Hastert's office said, however, it had not known the e-mails were anything more than "over-friendly."

Majority Republicans engineered a House vote Friday that refers the Foley matter to the House ethics committee, but lets that panel decide whether there should even be an investigation.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, the House Democratic leader, pressed the committee on Sunday to begin investigating and make a preliminary report within 10 days. She demanded to know who knew of the messages, whether Foley had other contacts with pages and when the Republican leadership was notified of Foley's conduct.

"Republican leaders have admitted to knowing about Mr. Foley's outrageous behavior for six months to a year, and they chose to cover it up rather than to protect these children," she wrote.

Congressional pages, a staple of Washington politics since the 1820s, are high school students who serve as temporary gofers in the House and Senate. The program nearly ended in the early 1980s due to alleged sexual misconduct and drug use.

Republican leaders say it is their duty to ensure House pages' safety, and are now creating a toll-free hot line for pages and their families to call to confidentially report any incidents. They also will consider adopting new rules on communications between lawmakers and pages.

Foley, who is 52 and single, was co-chairman of the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus. In a statement Friday, he said, "I am deeply sorry and I apologize for letting down my family and the people of Florida I have had the privilege to represent."

This may very well cost the Republicans the House in an already tight race in the November election. The Republicans have more money, but the media is all this and George Allen in Virginia, giving Dems a lot of breathing room to work. What do you think about how this whole thing panned out? Do you think it changes the political terrain for November?



Aw, Here It Goes!
Yea, I saw this on the news it really makes you think of the sick kind of people you can find on the internet, reminesent of Bill Kamal, and worst of all it happened in Florida.


Kind of makes me ashamed of my home state, that we elected people like him into office.

But he isn't from Jacksonville, so I'm not personally offended.

BTW, how did the emails get leaked? I read about a blog broadcasting them, but no mention how they got there. Did the person receiving the email forward it to them? If so, then why not the police? Or did the blogs get their hands on it illegally for a juicy story?


For a Free Scotland
I don't know, if he sent them over an IM service in and around the House...there may have been suspicion, confiscation of the chat logs and emails, and releasing as evidence to the media.

I honestly don't know though.

EDIT: New story on the Net is up. Foley apparently tried to meet the page.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- House Republican leaders struggled Monday to contain the political fallout as more sexually charged electronic banter between Rep. Mark Foley and teenage pages emerged.

A "completely devastated" Foley was undergoing treatment for alcoholism and mental illness, his lawyer said.

While conceding that Foley had inappropriate communications with pages and former pages, attorney David Roth said Foley had "never, ever had an inappropriate sexual contact with a minor in his life."

"He is absolutely, positively not a pedophile," Roth said. "He is apologetic for the communications that he made while under the influence of alcohol." (Watch how and when House leaders found out the allegations -- 2:05)

Roth described Foley as "extremely depressed" and said he "is contrite, remorseful and devastated by the harm that his actions have caused to others." (Watch Roth describe how his client is "devastated" -- 2:30)

Friends, family members and Washington political insiders contacted by CNN, including Foley's brother-in-law, said they had seen no indication that he had a drinking problem. But Roth told reporters people around Foley may not have known about it because "he had two lives with regard to his alcohol consumption."

The FBI, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the House Ethics Committee are now investigating Foley's conduct, and the inquiries could include whether there was any attempt to cover it up.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert Monday denied that anyone in the GOP leadership knew about sexually explicit instant messages Foley allegedly exchanged with former male pages in 2003.

But that assertion didn't satisfy House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who demanded that Republican leaders be questioned under oath about what they knew of Foley's conduct.

New messages

Instant messages released by ABC News Monday and attributed to Foley suggest he tried to arrange a meeting with a teenage page in Washington.

CNN cannot verify whether the instant message comments reported by ABC actually came from the congressman.

According to ABC News, Foley, using the instant messenger user name "Maf54," repeatedly tried to meet the teen.

In one alleged instant message exchange, Foley tried to arrange a dinner with the page:

Maf54: I miss you lots since san diego.
Teen: ya I cant wait til dc
Maf54: :)
Teen: did you pick a night for dinner
Maf54: not yet...but likely Friday
Teen: ok...ill plan for Friday then
Maf54: that will be fun

Instant messages previously released by ABC News involved the same Maf54 username.

In another exchange released Monday, the page apparently was uncomfortable with Foley's alleged advances:

Maf54: I want to see you
Teen: Like I said not til feb...then we will go to dinner
Maf54: and then what happens
Teen: we eat...we drink...who knows...hang out...late into the night
Maf54: and
Teen: I dunno
Maf54: dunno what
Teen: hmmm I have the feeling that you are fishing here...im not sure what I would be comfortable with...we'll see

Foley, a six-term congressman, was co-chairman of the Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus. (Watch how politics inspired Foley at age 6 -- 2:44)

Replacement chosen

A leading activist in the conservative movement, Richard Viguerie, issued a statement calling for the immediate resignation of any House Republican leaders who knew about Foley's suggestive communications but took no action.

"Anyone who covers up such behavior should have the full wrath of the authorities and of the public fall upon them," Viguerie said.

Meanwhile, Florida GOP leaders Monday picked state Rep. Joe Negron of Stuart to replace Foley as the party's candidate for the 16th District House seat in the November 7 election.

However, with the election only five weeks away, Foley's name will remain on the ballot, which means voters in the district will have to cast their ballots for the scandal-plagued former congressman in order to vote for Negron.

Those circumstances may give Democrat Tim Mahoney the upper hand in a race Foley had been expected to win.

But Negron told CNN he was optimistic that he could keep the seat in Republican hands and that he expects to receive financial support from the state and national parties for his campaign.

"This is a 60-percent-for-Jeb-Bush House district," Negron said.

With control of the House up for grabs in November, Hastert went before reporters in Washington Monday to blast Foley, calling his behavior "vile" and charging that he had "deceived" his colleagues.

GOP actions defended

Two Republicans with leadership positions, Reps. John Shimkus of Illinois and Tom Reynolds of New York, have acknowledged that they knew about an "overly friendly" exchange of e-mails in 2005 between Foley and a former male page from Louisiana, which were not sexually explicit.

Shimkus is chairman of the House Page Board, and Reynolds chairs the National Republican Congressional Committee, the election campaign arm for House Republicans. (Timeline)

Shimkus has said Foley assured him nothing inappropriate had taken place with the page, after which Foley was told not to have any further contact with the teen and to watch his conduct around pages.

In a news conference Monday night, Reynolds said that Rep. Rodney Alexander, a Louisiana Republican who sponsored the page e-mailed by Foley in 2005, informed him about the notes earlier this year. Reynolds said he did not actually see the e-mails.

Reynolds said he then informed Hastert because he thought it was appropriate to tell his "supervisor" about allegations of possible sexual misconduct. (Watch how Florida newspapers didn't pursue the story -- 2:51 )

But Reynolds insisted that he, too, did not know about the more explicit messages from 2003 -- and, that once he saw them Friday, he began working "swiftly and immediately" to get Foley to resign.

Hastert told CNN Monday that he does not recall being told by Reynolds about the e-mails between Foley and the Louisiana teen, although he did not dispute that the conversation may have happened.

"If he did, he brought it in with a whole stack of things," the speaker said.

Hastert said the primary interest of the teen's parents was getting Foley to stop contacting their son, which was accomplished. Alexander has said the parents did not want to pursue the matter further. (Watch Hastert address the allegations against Foley -- 2:25 )

After the other alleged messages surfaced last week, if Foley had not resigned, Hastert said, "I would have demanded his expulsion from the House of Representatives."

Pelosi: Testify under oath

But after Hastert spoke to reporters Monday, Pelosi issued a statement charging that the speaker "again failed to answer the question that every mother and father in America is asking -- how could Republican leaders choose partisan politics over protecting children?"

"Republican leaders admitted to knowing about Mr. Foley's abhorrent behavior for six months to a year and failed to protect the children in their trust," she said. "Republican leaders must be investigated by the Ethics Committee and immediately questioned under oath."

Also, Rep. Dale Kildee of Michigan, the lone Democrat on the three-member Page Board, said he was "outraged" that he had not been informed of the allegations against Foley.

He also complained that Hastert and Shimkus had decided on their own to make changes in the page program without consulting the full panel. (Read how the page program works)

The continued worsening of the situation, as well as the surprising legitimacy of the evidence, has really put a stall on Election Day races. The Republicans got money to spend down the stretch, but this could continue for days, perhaps weeks; and give plenty of free smear advertising to the Dems.

It's covering CNN and most other news agencies. The tragic school shooting pushed it away for a while, but this new story will cover the media again.



"Republican leaders have admitted to knowing about Mr. Foley's outrageous behavior for six months to a year, and they chose to cover it up rather than to protect these children,"
I can't stand that... they'd rather tollerate behavior like that and remain the majority than they would report it and lose the lead. Well, now it's been discovered, and it's falling on them harder because of it. I say it's a good thing... if we can get a Dem lead again, it would be just lovely.


For a Free Scotland
Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert is in beyond hot water over this.

Their excuse is legitamite: they knew of some of the emails, but they weren't nearly as explicit or ominous as the others. I asked my father and he remarked of an important thing:

If there's something wrong, there should be at least an informal investigation. Ask questions of his staff, the pages, and Foley himself. There should have been some responsibility to make them gauge whether or not this was a tip of the proverbial iceberg. They just dismissed it, and it a)got more dangerous to the pages and more criminal of Foley, and b) established backlash.


This is story of the Fox News controversy about the O'Reily Factor using this image:

Which is, of course, a contradiction to reality.



I wonder how InTheNet would try to back up Fox on that one... "no, they're not biased, they just completely change the facts"


For a Free Scotland

influence in an unfair way


a piece of information about circumstances that exist or events that have occurred
Thus if the fact is "Mark Foley ran, served, and is under investigation as a Republican congressman from Florida" which is indisputable, than the D-FL remark, of course, makes Fox thus the antonym of "fair and balanced".

They report, they decide, they propogate.


Dr. Fresh

Mmmm.... Lesbians.
This just disgusts me. THe Republican party didn't need another problem for them and tarnishing their already tainted image. It just disgusts me that they knew about this and yet, tried to cover it up rather then help these children and give a punishment to Foley earlier.