- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 7, 2006

The House ethics panel has not released its findings into the behavior of Mark Foley, the Florida Republican who left Congress in disgrace, despite looming adjournment and an October promise that the probe would conclude in “weeks, not months.”

Speculation was raised that a report on the Foley scandal would be issued this afternoon, but staffers for the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct did not respond to rumors sweeping through Capitol Hill.

Mr. Foley resigned Sept. 29 when it was revealed that he sent sexually explicit messages to teenage boys who had served as congressional pages. That day, House members voted unanimously to send the matter to the ethics panel.

A spokesman for Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi said the California Democrat would be disappointed if the investigation is unresolved when the House adjourns either today or tomorrow.

“We said at the time we wanted to see it investigated thoroughly and expeditiously,” Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly said.

Lawmakers assured voters that the ethics panel would be swift and aggressive in determining who knew and when they became aware of Mr. Foley’s actions. The FBI also began an investigation.

Chairman Doc Hastings, Washington Republican, declared in October that the committee had “no higher priority.”

“We’re simply going to work as quickly as we possibly can,” he said.

Rep. Howard L. Berman of California, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said, “In terms of time frame, we are looking at weeks, not months.”

He added that the committee would proceed “quietly and without announcing it until we’re finished” with the investigation.

Committee members expressed the gravity of suspicions that a member of Congress might have endangered children.

“The American people, and especially the parents of all current and former pages, are entitled to know how this situation was handled,” Mr. Hastings said. “And we are determined to answer their questions … as quickly as possible.”

Many expected the panel to announce its findings before the Nov. 7 elections and no later than the end of the year.

Staffers at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said the report is to be issued at 5 p.m. today. Panel staffers did not respond to requests for comment.

Mrs. Pelosi said yesterday she assumes “the ethics committee will get its business accomplished before we leave in this Congress.”

The House resolution calling for the ethics investigation directed Mr. Hastings and Mr. Berman to “make a preliminary report within 10 days.”

The panel never issued such a report, but conducted numerous interviews in October.

Outgoing Speaker J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois, Majority Leader John A. Boehner of Ohio and other Republican leaders are accused of knowing about and not alerting any Democrats to Mr. Foley’s conduct.

Any active ethics investigations will end when Congress adjourns. A new committee of the 110th Congress would have to reauthorize or carry over such investigations.

Mrs. Pelosi will name committee members and a chairman in the coming month. Mr. Berman’s office confirmed yesterday that he will not be the chairman.

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