Mark Foley Scandal
The Mark Foley scandal was a hilarious/disturbing event that erupted publicly in late September 2006 when ABC News reported that a former congressional page had complained about emails sent by Republican Congressman Mark Foley of Florida. After the story broke, additional former and current pages came forward with transcripts of sexually explicit internet messages received from Foley.
The basic outlines of the scandal are that Foley solicited minors for sex online via emails and instant messages. This would be a felony in the State of Florida were Foley resides, and may also be a possible federal felony with regard to soliciting across state lines and, ironically, one of the very laws in which Foley, as Co-chair on the Committee for Missing and Exploited Children helped enact during his tenure. Further, and many would say more damning, is that Republican leadership in the House, who were informed that their might be a problem with Foley's conduct chose to ignore it and cover-up the issue without fully investigating it and continue to do so.
Mark Foley/GOP Scandal - Timeline
Early Signs of Trouble
House pages were warning each other about Foley in '95
Source: SF Gate
Rep. Jim Kolbe Confronted Foley in 2000
Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) said that he knew about Foley's messages to pages in 2000, and confronted him about it at that time. (Source: Lawmaker Saw Foley Messages In 2000, by Jonathan Weisman, Washington Post, Oct. 9, 2006.)
A 'Warning' in 2001
A Republican staff member informally warns pages “to watch out for Congressman Mark Foley.” A former page, Matthew Loraditch, the president of the Page Alumni Association says that they were told “don’t get too wrapped up in him being too nice to you and all that kind of stuff.” Loraditch later clarifies this televised statement as the scandal begins to unfold after criticism of his statment, by stating that he had been told "informally by a supervisor" that "Foley was a bit odd or flaky" but not that he should be avoided and that the term "warning" was an unfortunate choice of words.
Hey You... Get Into My Car
In late May or early June of 2002 Foley takes a 16-year-old male page for a private lunch at Morton's Steakhouse in his BMW convertable sports car. This is a result of a winning bid for "lunch with Mark Foley" at a fund-raising auction for a House page event. Such rides around town with young male pages strike Congressional staffers as unusual for young pages to go for rides in a member's cars.
Letter from Foley to Jeb Bush
While co-chairman of the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus, Foley writes this letter to Gov. Jeb Bush.
Sexual Harrassment and Predation
Foley's online sexual predation of minors, as far as what has come to light at this point, begins in 2003 and continues to at least the fall of 2005.
Instant Messages in 2003
Rep. Mark Foley has at least 52 separate instant message exchanges which later surface when the scandal breaks, with two different male teens who were either pages or former pages and both under the age of 18, via Foley's personal AOL account name Maf54.
On April 2, 2003 engages in one such exchange just prior to casting votes on the floor for H.R. 1559, the Emergency Wartime Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2003. During the echange, he gives a "cyber sex" kiss to the teen, and speaks of how he misses the teen. In a different message with that teen, Foley invites the minor and a friend to come to his house near Capitol Hill so they can drink alcohol and not "get busted".
In a different series of messages, Foley has sexually explicit IM exchanges with a 16 year-old male who was also a former Congressional page, from a hotel in Pensicola Florida. The former Congressional page was at his home in Louisiana at the time. In these conversations Foley directs the conversation to discussing how the teen masturbates, the size of his penis and asks him to take his penis out of his pants in what seems to be an intended initiation of "cyber sex" which usually involves simultaneous masturbation while "chatting" explicitly about sex.
In another message exchange with the teen, Foley appears to describe having been together with the teen in San Diego. The messages also contains discussion about meeting for dinner and also shows the teen is, at times, uncomfortable with Foley's aggressive approach about what will occur after they have dinner together.
E-mails in 2005
Ostensibly in response to a 'thank you' card a Congressional page gives to Foley for being nice to him during his service as a page, Foley asks the page for his home e-mail address. Thinking nothing of it, the teen gives Foley the e-mail address. Beginning on July 29, 2005 Foley begins sending inappropriate e-mails to this and other former Congressional pages from locations in North Carolina and Florida. In them, he asks the page his age, what he wants for his birthday, discusses the physique of another male page by the name of Will Humble, and solicits the page to send him photographs of himself.
It is after Foley asks in the fifth email for the teen to send him a picture of himself, that the former page becomes uncomfortable with Foley's conversations and stops replying to them and contacts the office of Republican Rodney Alexander of Louisiana, about the e-mails.
GOP Told of Emails
Notifying Alexander's Office
On August 30, 2005 the teen is in contact with the office of his sponsor Republican Rodney Alexander of Louisiana, about e-mails he had received from Foley that asked about the boy's age, then 16, and his birthday and requested a picture. He then forwards the email to someone with a house.gov email address (pressuamably Alexander's office) on August 31, 2005 and expresses his concern about the email, highlighting the parts that unnerved and concerned him, describing the passage where Foley asks him to send him photographs of himself as "Sick sick sick sick sick sick sick sick sick sick sick sick sick...". Alexander would later claim that he only learned of the emails from a reporter.
Alexander passes the buck
Alexander contacts the page's family, and later states he was told by his parents that "they didn't want me to do anything." Alexander informs Rep. Thomas Reynolds of New York, the chairman of the House Republican campaign organization that a concern about Foley's inapproaite communication with the page was brought to his office, and then drops the matter.
Hastert Discusses it with Alexander?
Tim Kennedy, a staff assistant in the House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s Office, will later claim that they received a telephone call from Alexander’s Chief of Staff who indicated that he has an email exchange between Congressman Foley and a former House page they were concerned about. They will later claim that Mike Stokke, Deputy Chief of Staff for Speaker Hastert, called Jeff Trandahl, then Clerk of the House, and asked him to come to the Speaker’s Office so that he could put him together with Congressman Alexander’s Chief of Staff to discuss the matter. Hasert will later claim that he first heard of the emails in the week in which the scandal finally explodes in Septermber of 2006, a year later.
When is Late 2005?
House Page Board chairman Rep. John Shimkus in late 2005 learns from Trandahl about the e-mail exchange. Shimkus and Trandahl are never actually shown the contents of the emails yet meet with Foley. The meeting consists of Shimkus advising Foley no longer have communications with the page. No inquiriey into any other email or exchanges between Foley and other pages are discussed or investigated, no other pages are interviewed, no investigation of any kind is undertaken.
Shimkus does not inform Rep. Dale Kildee, the only Democrat on the three-person Page Committee or Representative Shelley Moore Capito, the other Republican on the board. About this failure, Shimkus will go on to say on October 2, 2006 that "what I did was fine. If I regret something, maybe I should have had Dale [Kildee] with me because now it’s going to be a political football." This also will contradict later statements made that the board investigated the emails in 2005, when no other members of the board even notified of the troubling emails, much less any investigation being conducted by the board.
The Autumn of Our Lies
In November of 2005 number of news organizations, including the Tampa Bay Times, receive the emails. The paper launches an investigation into them, but concludes it was just "friendly chit-chat." and the page's family does not wish to go on record. The Tampa Bay Times then seeks out other pages, but only finds one other page willing to disclose having email contact with Foley and states that he found nothing odd in his emails with Foley. The newspaper having only a single set of emails and the page not willing to go on record about his being unerved by Foley's email, chose not to run the story.
At the end of 2005, Foley is still left as Co-Chair of the Committee for Missing and Exploited Children, and is in no way prevented from interacting with pages, nor are pages warned after the troubling emails were brought to the attention of the GOP leadership, nor were any steps taken as a precautionary measure, or any investigation carried out.
Springtime for Hastert... and Mark Foley
NRCC chairman Tom Reynolds, whose function within the GOP is to coordinate efforts to elect Republicans to the House, personally speaks with Hastert about the matter early in spring of 2006, after being approached by Alexander on the subject, following the February GOP leadership elections. Once the scandal erupts, Hastert will later claim that he did not "explicitly recall" that conversation but that he did not dispute it. House Majority Leader, John Boehner somewhere around this time learns of the of "inappropriate 'contact' between Foley and a 16-year-old page" and speaks with Hastert about it. Boehner will later change his story two more times, first changing it to his not recalling talking to Hastert, then finally denying he ever talked to Hastert about the matter in the spring of 2006.
On May 10, 2006 Reynold’s personal PAC, TOMPAC, donates $5,000 to Foley’s campaign. Later, on June 27th, Foley writes a $100,000 check to the NRCC, which is chaired by Reynolds on the very same day that he attends a signing ceremony at the White House for the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 which ironically is a law which Foley seems to have broken by sexually harassing minors online.
On September 28, 2006 ABC publishes emails between Foley and former page. Note that Foley resigned three hours before ABC published its story, and that Hastert said that the story was the first time he had any knowledge of Foley's activities. Therefore, Hastert's recent claim that he forced Foley to resign is self-evidently false. (Source: ThinkProgress, Oct. 6, 2006).
House Ethics Committee Hearings
In October 2006, the House Ethics Committee finally began hearings on the scandal. On the 18th, Rep. Rodney Alexander "spent about three hours testifying about Foley's contacts with teenage pages and how the chamber's Republican leadership handled concerns about Foley." And the next day, Former House Clerk Jeff Trandahl and House Majority Leader John Boehner were scheduled to testify. (Source: Sources: House clerk warned GOP about Foley years ago - CNN)