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  • « The 'thin pink line' thickens | Main | A Huff and a puff… »

    October 10, 2006

    Kolbe's 'corrective action'

    Posted by: Chris

    One day after the Washington Post broke the story that gay Republican Congressman Jim Kolbe received a complaint from a congressional page way back in 2000 about inappropriate attention from fellow Republican Mark Foley, Kolbe issued a short statement with a few more details about the "corrective action" he says he took.

    Kolbe said he learned from the former page, who Kolbe had appointed, about "emails from Rep. Foley that made him feel uncomfortable."  Kolbe's "corrective action" was not, as the Post report had suggested, to confront Foley directly, but to "pass along the complaint to Rep. Foley's office and the clerk who supervised the Page program."  Kolbe took no additional action, he said, because the former page never raised the issue again and had graduated from the page program.

    Kolbe will no doubt come under fire for thinking it was "corrective action" to refer the complaint to Foley's staff. Why would Foley's office do anything other than bury the matter, perhaps with a private, toothless warning to the closeted congressman?

    Kolbe doesn't name to whom within Foley's office he directed the complaint, but expect yet more heat if it was Kirk Fordham, Foley's gay chief of staff. The other recipient of Kolbe's referral also isn't named, but is identified as "the clerk who supervised the page program." That would be Jeff Trandahl, the gay Republican who was then chief clerk of the U.S. House. If Kolbe's "corrective action" was to refer the complaint to other gay Republicans, it lends further credence to what appears to have been a "thin pink line" of gay Republicans covering for Foley. It also puts Trandahl further on the hotseat.

    Until now, Trandahl's confirmed knowledge of Foley's "page problem" dated only to the end of last year — soon before Trandahl quietly resigned his post — when House Speaker Dennis Hastert asked Trandahl and Rep. John Shimkus to talk to Foley about an overly friendly email to a former page in Louisiana. Now it appears Trandahl was made aware at least five years earlier about Foley's pursuit of these teenage males.

    A number of reports on "Foley-gate" have quoted former pages as saying they were unofficially warned about Foley's unusual interest in individual pages. Hopefully these sorts of nudges weren't the only "corrective actions" taken by Trandahl and his staff.

    Trandahl's complete silence on the matter only underlines the questions he hasn't answered: How many other such incidents was he aware of, and did he inform the speaker or his staff, or Shimkus, or anyone else for that matter, about the pattern of Foley's conduct? The same questions could be asked of Fordham, if in fact he was the person in "Foley's office" alerted by Kolbe.

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