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    October 15, 2006

    Where there's smoke, there's…smoke

    Posted by: Chris

    I wrote last week about how on Oct. 9 and 10, Huffington Post included a teaser at the top of its home page that a TV network was developing a story about how another gay Republican in Congress, Jim Kolbe, of Arizona, also has had inappropriate contact with teenage male pages.  I was so busy with my move and travel to Rio late in the week, that I missed this brief story posted on MSNBC on Oct. 11.

    Kolbejim The "bombshell" is anything but.  The U.S. attorney's office in Arizona is investigating a camping trip to the Grand Canyon taken by Kolbe with two former pages, both male and 17 at the time in 1996, coincidentally the same year he was pushed out of the closet for supporting the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act.  Also on the trip were Kolbe's sister, several of his congressional staffers and even several park employees.

    Two days later, MSNBC updated the story, citing claims by an unnamed source who apparently sparked the investigation that Kolbe showered one of the pages with unwanted attention that included "fawning, petting and touching" the teenager's arm. NBC also interviewed the two former pages:

    One of them said that Kolbe was a gentleman and never acted in an improper fashion. He recalled that the pair spent time in Kolbe's house at one point — and briefly were alone with him on the trip — and that Kolbe always acted professionally and decently.

    The other would not comment on Kolbe's behavior during the trip or characterize it in any way.

    "I don't want to get into the details," he said. "I just don't want to get into this... because I might possibly be considered for a job in the administration."

    However, the former page — who is the one to whom Kolbe allegedly paid special attention — said he had a "blast" on the trip and did not report anything improper to his parents or any House officials after the trip. He said he has a favorable impression of the page program to this day and likes Kolbe.

    Considering the hoopla surrounding Mark Foley's misconduct, the power relationship between members of Congress and pages, and the age of consent (18) in Arizona, the U.S. attorney's "preliminary investigation" is understandable. Leaking that investigation to the press, however, would be troubling and suggest a less than honorable motive could be at work. The NBC News report does indicate that such an investigation would normally be handled by the FBI, not the U.S. attorney, who is appointed by the president.

    Are Republicans looking to pin the Foley scandal on gay members of Congress, along the lines suggested by some of the White House allies who've shamelessly played on the pedophile slur that still haunts gay men? Did Kolbe give them ammunition by testing the lines of fraternal conduct? It's probably a matter of time until the mainstream media reports, as I mentioned in my previous post, that Kolbe's partner now is young enough to be his son, or even his grandson.

    Perhaps the U.S. attorney's office didn't leak the investigation. Maybe the source from the trip complaining about Kolbe's behavior also brought the story to the press. Or maybe the U.S. attorney's office thought that some public coverage of possible misconduct by Kolbe with one former page might bring others out of the woodwork, which is exactly how the Foley scandal broke.

    Whatever the whole story, the three threads of Foley-gate — Foley's own misconduct, the apparent attempt by gay GOP staffers to keep it quiet, and now Kolbe's relationship with teenage males — are all headed in directions that could be used to scapegoat homosexuality as a common factor in the scandal and its cover-up.



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    1. Kevin on Oct 19, 2006 12:51:17 AM:

      You got it Chris. And Rep. Kildee's dark hints and nods-and-winks to the media which fueled the flames of this non-story about Jim were revolting. It shows how everything in Washington that used to have some remote connection to ideas and philosophy (and in some cases even integrity) have collapsed around the greedy pursuit - or retention - of power, pure and simple. Everything else long ago went over the side of the boat like chum into the water...

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