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    December 08, 2006

    Ethics probe clears GOP on Foley

    Posted by: Chris

    Foleyreport_2 The House ethics probe into the Mark Foley scandal has concluded that House Republican leaders and their staff violating no rules but exercised poor judgment in failing to follow up reports of inappropriate contacts by the former Florida congressman with teenage pages.  The Washington Post reports:

    "A pattern of conduct was exhibited among many individuals to remain willfully ignorant of the potential consequences" of Foley's behavior, the report said. " … The failure to exhaust all reasonable efforts to call attention to potential misconduct involving a Member and House page is not merely the exercise of poor judgment; it is a present danger to House pages and to the integrity of the institution of the House." …

    The report said Foley declined through his lawyer to appear before the subcommittee, citing pending criminal investigations against him and asserting his constitutional right to refuse to testify against himself.

    Markfoley_1Hopefully the 91-page report sheds more light on the scandal than initial press reports indicate. On the key question of whether leading House Republicans told Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) about the matter before September, when Hastert says he first learned, the report concludes — drum roll, please —  "probably at least in passing." 

    On the key question of whether former Foley staff chief Kirk Fordham raised the issue Scott Palmer, Hastert's top aide, as Fordham claims and Palmer denies: no answer, at least in the Post report.

    And finally, on whether the gay Republicans who knew at least something about Foley's misconduct — Fordham, then-chief House Clerk Jeff Trandahl, Arizona Congressman Jim Kolbe, and Hastert aides Palmer and Ted VanDer Meid (if they're gay, as rumored) — acted in-house as a sort of "thin pink line" to protect Foley, one of their own, again nothing. Committee members were probably too timid to even ask the question.

    All in all, a thoroughly disatisfying conclusion to the matter. But I'll reserve judgment until I've actually read the full report.



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    1. Alan on Dec 9, 2006 11:47:48 AM:

      Explain to me how this investigation was completed without Mr. Foley having been interviewed?

    1. Citizen Crain on Dec 11, 2006 10:11:57 AM:

      To answer your question, Alan: The report says that the committee subpoenaed Foley for testimony but was told by his attorneys that if "made to appear for testimony he would invoke the Fifth Amendment and refuse to testify." The committee also learned that the state of Florida and the FBI have begun criminal probes of Foley.

      Again quoting the report, the committee "determined that both deferring questioning of Rep. Foley until resolutin of any criminal proceedings and instituting enforcement proceedings to compel compliance with the subpoenas would unnecessarily delay the issuance of this report." So they chose to go forward without direct testimony from Foley.

      Both explanations are cop-outs, to some degree. Deferring to the criminal investigations was optional, and the Fifth Amendment only protects Foley from incriminating himself and much of what he would be asked would be unrelated to potentially unlawful activity. The committee simply wasn't interested in fighting either battle.

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