A liberal gay rights group said Wednesday that one of its employees, acting anonymously, had created the Web site that first published copies of unusually solicitous e-mail messages to teenagers from former Representative Mark Foley, which led to his resignation.
A spokesman for the group, the Human Rights Campaign, said it first learned of its employee’s role this week and immediately fired him for misusing the group’s resources. The scandal surrounding Mr. Foley, a Florida Republican, has been a burdensome distraction for members of his party in the month before the midterm elections, and some Republicans have speculated that the e-mail messages were planted by a Democrat.
The rights campaign’s spokesman, David Smith, said the employee, whose name he declined to disclose, was a junior staff member hired last month to help mobilize the organization’s members in Michigan. “The minute we learned about it we took decisive action,” Mr. Smith said.
HRC has long been criticized for being too partisan on behalf of Democratic candidates. When HRC's Joe Solmonese visited Indianapolis last year, he told AI that HRC was making a concerted outreach to Republicans. When ABC News first reported on Foley, Solmonese issued this statement:
Gay or straight, Democrat or Republican, it is completely inexcusable for an adult to have this kind of communication with a minor. Congressman Foley brought shame on himself and this Congress by his horrible behavior and complete lack of judgment. We strongly condemn his behavior.
This revelation is likely to severely damage HRC's credibility with Republican members of Congress. It also bolsters Republicans' argument that the Foley issue had more to do with partisan politics than it did about exposing Foley for his improper conduct with House pages. Incidentally, Solmonese cut his teeth in politics when he worked as a paid DNCC staffer for Rep. Julia Carson's first congressional campaign in 1996. Do you think he learned anything about dirty tricks then?