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The Blotter I: Foley

There's a growing debate within the GOP on when Hastert's office was first informed about the alleged inappropriate behavior by Foley.  A former congressional aide says that Kirk Fordham is telling the truth about informing the House GOP leadership in 2004, per NBC's Jim Popkin.  This former aide, providing some confirmation of Fordham's timeline, had not yet been contacted by the FBI or the House Ethics Committee as of yesterday.  His statements challenge Hastert's version of events and push back by about a year the first time Hastert's office was made aware of a problem with Foley and male pages.

Fordham is scheduled to testify before the House Ethics Committee this week, says USA Today, which also reports that "White House press secretary Tony Snow is speaking at a Hastert fundraiser Saturday in Illinois." 

The Washington Post reports that one other GOP member knew about Foley's e-mails as far back as 2000.  Rep. Jim Kolbe, the only openly gay Republican in Congress, is retiring this year.  "The revelation pushes back by at least five years the date when a member of Congress has acknowledged learning of Foley's behavior with former pages."  Kolbe's spokesperson told the Post that "'corrective action' was taken," but also "said she has not yet determined whether that action went beyond Kolbe's confrontation with Foley." 

The AP, pointing out that Foley himself has escaped the House probe by resigning, notes, "If the House ethics committee finds evidence of a Republican cover-up, many lawmakers could be in jeopardy, facing consequences that range from a mild rebuke in a committee report to a House vote of censure or expulsion.  Unlike the committee's usual practice of identifying the investigative target at the outset, this probe is wide open." 

House Government Reform chair Tom Davis, who used to chair the GOP House campaign committee, said yesterday "that anyone who participated in any cover-up of the Mark Foley page scandal should be removed from power." 

The Sunday Washington Post listed questions the two probes will try to answer: 1) "Who decided to keep word of the Louisiana e-mails closely held, so that only a handful of House Republicans -- and no Democrats -- knew of them?"  2) "Did Trandahl and Shimkus know exactly what the e-mails to the Louisiana boy said?"  3) "How did House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) handle word of the Louisiana e-mails?"  4) "Did Hastert know about the e-mails to the Louisiana boy?"  And 5) "Was Hastert's staff alerted to earlier concerns about Foley's behavior toward teenage pages?" 

The Sunday Los Angeles Times reported on a former page who had a sexual relationship with Foley when he was 21, after he left the page program.  "The former page's account is consistent with Foley's assertion that he did not have sexual relations with minors...  Yet the former page's exchanges with Foley offer a glimpse of possible predatory behavior by the congressman."