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Mystery Man on the Hill

From NBC's Mike Viqueira
There was a vaguely familiar figure loitering with reporters outside the House Republican leadership elections this morning. It was a dapper young man with an easy smile who stood chatting with a small group of friends, and at length the press mob became aware of his presence. Voices were lowered and furtive gestures were made in his direction.

The mystery man was Kirk Fordham, the former chief of staff for former Rep. Mark Foley (R), and a central figure in the scandal that contributed to the fact that down the hall and behind closed doors Republicans were electing a minority leader and not a speaker. It turns out he was on the Hill tying up ends left loose after his hasty resignation as the scandal exploded. He was fresh off a two-and-a-half week vacation and seemed at ease.

As reporters approached Fordham and struck up a conversation, who should walk by at that very moment but Ed Cassidy, the top aide to the chairman of the ethics committee -- the very panel that grilled Fordham for hours last month over what he knew of his former boss's contact with pages.

"Are you guys almost done?" Fordham asked Cassidy, clearing referring to the committee investigation.

Cassidy turned (and perhaps confused) said, "It will be soon." For a brief moment reporters thought they were getting a scoop. But then a look of recognition flashed over Cassidy's face, and he realized that it was Fordham, and that he wasn't asking about the GOP elections but the ethics investigation of the Foley matter.

"Oh no!" Cassidy said. "With THAT we are," he added, gesturing toward the meeting. "Not THAT," he said, referring to the Foley report.