IN THE AFTERMATH, WITH A POLITICAL CAREER IN SHAMBLES
The Palm Beach Post reports this morning that former congressman Mark Foley left Washington Saturday for an unknown location with his older sister Donna, who has been beside him throughout his campaigns. He is said to be "an emotional wreck".
Friends and collegues are still shocked in the aftermath of Foley's resignation from Congress Friday after being confronted with e-mails and transcripts of instant messages --- some of which were sexually explicit --- sent to a couple of teenage boys, all congressional pages. ABC News has now reported that as many as five boys have come forward.
Reaction from former collegues has been, in some cases, quite harsh.
From the Post story:
On Saturday, U.S. Rep. Thomas Reynolds of New York, chairman of the National Republican Campaign Committee and a possible future House speaker, said, "Mark Foley betrayed the integrity of this institution as well as the trust of his colleagues and constituents. There is no excuse, and he needs to be held accountable."
Foley's current and former staff members have been advised by attorneys to refrain from commenting, as they may be called to testify in a likely House Ethics Committee investigation. That investigation should also deal with how much the House leadership, including Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R - IL), know about Foley's inappropriate messages, as it has now been admitted that some knew as early as last fall.
One bit of contridiction, considering the current situation...again, from the Post story:
During President Clinton's scandal with intern Monica Lewinsky, Foley sharply criticized him for his sexual misconduct with the young adult.
"It's vile," Foley said in 1998. "It's more sad than anything else — to see someone with such potential throw it all down the drain."
Foley, always ambitious, was considered a shoe-in for reelection in November. One quote that has been noted often during the past couple of days was from former Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards, one of the Bayou State's most colourful leaders among a long list of them, who once said "The only way I can lose is if I'm caught in bed with either a dead girl or a live boy.". While that was not the case with Mark Foley, it came close enough.
In another angle on this story, several newspapers have come under criticism for not running with their knowledge of the information earlier.
Responding, the St. Petersburg Times political blog The Buzz mentions a response to a query by Scott Montgomery, the newspapers' Government & Politics Editor:
"Adam [C. Smith, political reporter] sent me a copy of your email seeking comment. Here's what I can tell you. As a matter of policy, the St. Petersburg Times doesn't publish stories that make accusations based upon sources we can't name. At the time we first looked into this, the information we had simply didn't meet our standard. But when Tim Mahoney [Foley's Democratic opponent] went on the record on the matter, we felt we should tell readers what we knew."