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The blotter I: Foley

Hastert yesterday said he'd fire any staffer who failed to alert him of Foley's electronic messages or other advances.  Former page Jordan Edmund met with FBI investigators for a couple of hours in Oklahoma City yesterday, and his lawyer says he has been contacted by the House Ethics Committee.  Also, "Kirk Fordham, a former Foley aide who says he alerted Hastert staffers to Foley's inappropriate behavior as early as 2004, is scheduled to appear before the House ethics committee Thursday," says USA Today

The Washington Post reports on "indications that Democrats spent months circulating five less insidious Foley e-mails to news organizations before they were finally published by ABC News..., which prompted the leaking of the more salacious instant messages."  More: "The most sexually explicit material... appears to be disconnected from politics.  The two former pages who revealed the correspondence to ABC News and The Washington Post, however, may never have come forward had Democratic operatives not divulged the five more benign e-mails that Foley had sent to a Louisiana boy."  "The timing of the e-mails' release appears to be more of a coincidence than an 'October surprise.'" 

Retiring GOP Rep. Jim Kolbe, who earlier this week was dragged into the controversy, took two male pages with him on a three-day camping trip in 1996, former pages and National Park Service officials tell NBC's Investigative Unit.  The pages, who were 17 at the time, went rafting and camping with Kolbe in the Grand Canyon over the July 4 holiday.  A spokeswoman for Kolbe confirms the trip but says that the pages did not travel alone with Kolbe, whose sister was on the trip, along with office staffers and several Park Service employees.  Kolbe's spokeswoman says the pages paid their own way, and that Kolbe was on the House Interior Committee at the time and was visiting the Grand Canyon for work reasons.

The news comes after Kolbe was compelled to issue a statement yesterday: "Some time after leaving the Page program, an individual I had appointed as a Page contacted my office to say he had received e-mails from Rep. Foley that made him uncomfortable.  I was not shown the content of the messages and was not told they were sexually explicit.  It was my recommendation that this complaint be passed along to Rep. Foley's office and the Clerk who supervised the Page program.  This was done promptly.  I did not have a personal conversation with Mr. Foley...  I believed then, and believe now, that this was the appropriate way to handle this incident given the information I had and the fact that the young man was no longer a Page..."

Republicans have maintained that they have acted with alacrity in the Foley matter, seeking and obtaining Foley's immediate resignation the moment they learned of the salacious messages, as NBC's Mike Viqueira notes.  To draw a contrast, they point to the previous page scandal of 1983, in which Reps. Gerry Studds (D) and Daniel Crane (R) were accused of having sex with pages after having plied them with alcohol.  Republicans say that in that case, many Democrats -- including Steny Hoyer, currently the minority whip -- actually voted against censure.  But did Hoyer really vote against censure for Studds?  No, not really.  Hoyer voted against a motion that would have forced a vote to change the punishment from "reprimand" to "censure."  But when that motion passed, Hoyer voted in favor of censure.

The Hill covers doubts that Foley is an alcoholic.