Wednesday, October 11, 2006

When Did The Democrats Know About Foley?

The Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman explores the motives behind the release of inappropriate sexual e-mail exchanges between former Rep. Mark Foley (R) and House pages. What he discovers is that Democrats had been peddling "less insidious" e-mails between Foley and House pages for months, and that the most salacious e-mails did not surface until ABC News ran its first report on Foley. Weisman finds that former House pages brought forth the more salacious e-mails out of a desire to expose Foley's actions and not to help the Democrats in the election. Weisman writes today:

Two of the news media's sources of Mark Foley's sexually explicit instant messages to former House pages said this week that they came forward to expose the Florida congressman's actions, not to help the Democrats in the midterm elections.

But there are indications that Democrats spent months circulating five less insidious Foley e-mails to news organizations before they were finally published by ABC News late last month, which prompted the leaking of the more salacious instant messages. Harper's Magazine said yesterday that it obtained the five e-mails from a Democratic Party operative, albeit in May, long before the election season . . .

The two former pages who revealed the correspondence to ABC News and The Washington Post, however, may never have come forward had Democratic operatives not divulged the five more benign e-mails that Foley had sent to a Louisiana boy . . .

The timing of the e-mails' release appears to be more of a coincidence than an "October surprise," designed to affect the outcome of the elections. It took more than a year for the e-mails to be published because one publication after another decided not to print them.

The one media outlet that did, ABC News, took them public in late September only because the lead reporter, Brian Ross, had put the story on hold for more than a month as he pursued stories commemorating the anniversaries of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and Hurricane Katrina.

"There was never a plan to undermine the GOP or to destroy Hastert personally, as the speaker has vaingloriously suggested," Ken Silverstein, Washington editor for Harper's, said on the magazine's Web site yesterday. "I know this with absolute certainty because Harper's was offered the story almost five months ago."

Silverstein said his source was a "Democratic operative," the same source that had provided the e-mail exchanges to the St. Petersburg Times in November 2005. Both the magazine and the paper declined to publish a story. But the source "was not working in concert with the national Democratic Party," Silverstein added. "This person was genuinely disgusted by Foley's behavior, amazed that other publications had declined to publish stories about the emails, and concerned that Foley might still be seeking contact with pages" . . .

Weisman's report makes clear that a Democratic operative had in his possession e-mail exchanges between Foley and the House pages more than a year ago in November 2005. In fact, news of Foley being gay and having an interest in young men was first reported by Democratic gay activist Mike Rogers at in March, 2005. After Foley voted against gays on a vote taken by the House, Rogers wrote on Blogactive the following beneath a photo of Foley:

This is United States Congressman Mark Foley
He voted this week for a law to allow hate groups to fire gay and lesbian people at will
The law he is supporting will overrule ANY local laws on the matter

Coming Monday . . . Read about how Mark Foley hit on men less than half his age at the Republican convention . . .

The following Monday, Rogers posted a photo of Foley with some young, male interns on the Hill. This post prompted numerous comments focused on the sexual orientation of the interns. "Is this gathering a gay version of 'The Apprentice?,'" one commenter asked. It became more clear a few days later, that Rogers initial post, by his own acknowledgement, was intended as a mere teaser to get additional information to come forward about Foley. A few days later in another post Rogers said, "Yes, I admit that I put up the initial post about Foley a little too quickly . . . oh well." Finally, on March 22, 2005, Rogers reported that he had "confirmed from three separate sources that, in fact, U.S. Rep. Mark Foley is a gay man."

It was a post that Rogers made on June 14, 2005, which focused more closely on Foley's interest in young, male staffers on the Hill. Using the excuse of an online posting on Craigslist from a gay, male intern on the Hill in search of a lunch buddy, Rogers once again posted a photo of Foley with young male interns, along with this comment:

Well, B., we know one place you might start looking. Here's a picture of the intern crowd at a Florida House member's office and I can tell you that at least one of the men in the picture, like you is gay.

And finally, when ABC News first reported on Foley's e-mail exchanges with pages, Roger said, "I am glad to know that I had a role in pushing these emails out there." "I've been working on this story for a few days and am excited it's out there now," he added.

So whether you agree with his tactics or not for outing hypocritcal, gay politicians, Rogers is very up front about his work and his motives. Rogers didn't mention any contacts between Foley and House pages prior to the ABC News report; however, he does suggest that he had advance knowledge of the e-mails in question. He holds no formal position in the Democratic Party.

It is no secret that his blog is widely read on the Hill and by political operatives of both political parties, particularly as he has become more aggressive at outing not only politicians, but the staffers who work for them as well. It does raise the question why, if this sort of information has been out there for such a long time, why others on the Hill, Democrats included, weren't asking for at least an ethics inquiry into Foley's behavior long before ABC News broke this story.

Weisman's story today does lead credence to the view that Democrats were more interested in capitalizing politically on the scandal than protected the House pages. That still doesn't excuse the House Republicans' failure to properly investigate allegations of Foley's behavior that were brought to their attention long before the ABC News report aired.


Anonymous said...

Christopher Dodd

Anonymous said...

You may be right, and if so, someone's head should roll. But just like Eric Dickerson not having enough money, it may not make a difference.

Why? The voices of reason and honest reporting about prior knowledge, are being completely drowned out.

Part of that is Hastert's own fault. He trotted his fat ass out and basically denied anything for three days. That gave the story legs. He was the living breathing symbol of a bloatic federal government that can't find its ass with both hands and a road map.

If he'd said very early : "I will get to the bototm of this. Responsible people will pay." Or something similar. Things wuld be entirely different.

Still, you kinda wonder, why it's THIS issue that brings down the Republican caucus. I'm not sure if it's poetic justice or sad.

The correct story about "who knew what and when" doesn't fit into a 10-second sound bite. I had to slow down and re-read your post twice, to get the pronouns correct and be sure I followed it. I'm kinda slow sometimes, but still, it's not an easy explanation. It requires patience.

In very short supply from Oct. 1 on.

Wilson46201 said...

Disgraced former Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) paid a visit to the House page dormitory in 2000, according to ABC News. A drunken visit to the dorm by Foley in 2002 or 2003 had been reported last week. Writes ABC's Rhonda Schwartz:

A staff supervisor at the dorm for congressional pages intervened when former Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) tried to pay the teens a nighttime visit in the summer of 2000, ABC News has learned.

The pages were having an informal "mixer" party in their dorm at the Tip O'Neil building behind the Capitol, according to a former page who was 17 at the time.

"It was a beautiful summer evening, and I recall Mr. Foley arriving in his blue Series 3 BMW convertible about 9:30 at night," the former page said. "Several of us saw him and went outside to chat."

A supervisor saw the kids going towards Foley's car and "shooed" them back inside, Schwartz reports.

Jeff Newman said...

This case reminds me of Abramoff fiasco--the Republicans want to take their scandal and try to find a way to somehow make it bipartisan.

It was their House to clean; the Dems have been so powerless I don't think they could investigate a rogue squirrel on the Capitol lawn.

Spinning it around to somehow blame Foleygate on the Dems has been backfiring on them anyway. I think people are nearly as disgusted by the attempts to shift blame as they are by Foley's actions themselves. The Republicans are in a lose-lose situation on this one.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Having worked for the Illinois legislature for six years, I can attest to the fact that members of both parties are loathe to police the sexual misconduct of their own towards legislative staffers.

Wilson46201 said...

The Michigan Daily:

A former House page said he witnessed inappropriate contact between former Republican Congressman Mark Foley and another page in the back of the House floor in early 2001.

The page, Richard Nguyen, a first-year student at the University's Gerald Ford School of Public Policy, said he saw Foley pat a male page's behind.

Anonymous said...

Wolf Blitzer calls them out on trying to shift the blame to the Democrats:

"Blitzer: Well you don’t have any evidence though, right? Rep. McHenry: Well look at the fact points…four weeks out from a national election… Blitzer: Yes or no: do you have any evidence? Do you have any evidence Congressman? Rep. McHenry: Do you have any evidence that says they weren’t involved? Blitzer: I’m just asking if you’re just throwing out an accusation or if you have any hard evidence. Rep. McHenry: No, it’s a question Wolf. The question remains, were they involved? And if they were not involved they need to say clearly, and it’s a question, it’s not an accusation. Blitzer: Well, they are denying that they had anything to do with this."

Anonymous said...


Politics is local. Stay focused on our own representatives' conduct in office. The voters in the State of Florida have to deal with this embarassment. This State has its own. We need to clean up our own mess!

Dickerson vs Carson for the 7th District

Wilson46201 said...

Little Karl Roves all over the country are hollering "all politics is local" - don't talk about Iraq or Katrina - dont talk about Foley or Abramoff or Delay - dont talk about the GOP Rubber Stamp Congress.

Our Congresslady Julia Carson has opposed consistently George W Bush and his reckless policies. Republican Eric Dickerson wants to join that GOP mess!

Anonymous said...

Only severely deluded Republicans, deep in denial, could blame Democrats for Foley's behavior and the leadership's failure to do anything. Do Republicans ever take responsibility for anything tha goes wrong on their watch?

Gary R. Welsh said...

Does Julia plan to ask the U.N. to send inspectors to monitor our elections like she did two years ago?

Wilson46201 said...

Black helicopters bearing U.N. one-worlders to snatch away guns from God-fearing, fag-fearing Hoosiers? I dont think so, AI - I know the Birchers and Militia-types were certainly nervous about that two years ago - you still mad about Waco?!

Anonymous said...

Wilson, nobody's mad about Waco any more. Try to stay focused.
(Well, nobody on here is mad anyway)

Miss Carson's ridiculous off-the-cuff remark about UN Elections Observers was extremely embarrassing. Ask anyone on the Hill. It's oft-mentioned to new MCs as an example of "What Not To Do." She was tipsy, ill, napping, or just stupid--or some combination of the above.

She embarrassed all of us. We'll get over it.

But hell Wilson, it wasn't the first or last time.

Dontcha get it? Drip, drip, water torture.

Wilson46201 said...

Racist name-calling and historical revisionism wont get to the truth.

from Wikipedia

At the invitation of the United States government, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) sent a team of observers to monitor the presidential elections in 2004. It was the first time the OSCE had sent observers to a U.S. presidential election, although they had been invited in the past [14]. In September 2004 the OSCE issued a report (PDF 168K) on U.S. electoral processes and the election final report (PDF 256K).

Earlier, some 13 U.S. Representatives from the Democratic Party had sent a letter to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan asking for the UN to monitor the elections. The UN responded that such a request could only come from the official national executive. The move was met by considerable opposition from Republican lawmakers [15]. The OSCE is not affiliated with the United Nations.


Yes, Congresslady Carson was one of those 13 lawmakers. Hardly a drunken slip of the tongue or a cautionary tale!