- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 10, 2006

1:32 p.m.

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert said today he will dismiss anyone on his staff found to have covered up concerns about ex-Rep. Mark Foley’s approaches to former pages.

Mr. Hastert said he met with his staff last week and in that, in hindsight, the situation could have been better handled. But he added that “if there is a problem, if there was a cover-up, then we should find that out through the investigation process. They’ll be under oath, and we’ll find out.

“If they did cover something up, then they should not continue to have their jobs. But I didn’t think anybody at any time in my office did anything wrong,” Mr. Hastert said at a press conference in Aurora, Ill.

Meanwhile, Rep. Jim Kolbe said today he passed along a complaint about inappropriate e-mails from Mr. Foley to Mr. Foley’s office and the clerk of the House but took no further action when learning of the incident.

A former page sponsored by Mr. Kolbe contacted the Arizona Republican’s office in 2000 or 2001, well before House leaders say they first learned of inappropriate messages sent by Mr. Foley.

“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,” Mr. Kolbe said in a statement. “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.”

In Illinois, Mr. Hastert confirmed reports from last week that he initially had suggested having former FBI Director Louis Freeh head up a Capitol Hill inquiry on the page program, but that House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California objected.

Revelations that Mr. Foley was engaged in sending lurid messages to the young congressional assistants has caused an uproar with the midterm elections rapidly approaching. The Florida Republican resigned when the story surfaced and has since entered an alcohol rehabilitation facility in Florida.

The House ethics committee last week announced it was undertaking an investigation, and the matter already is under the scrutiny of the FBI.

In his statement today, Mr. Kolbe defended the way he handled the incident.

“I did not have a personal conversation with Mr. Foley about the matter. I assume e-mail contact ceased since the former page never raised the issue again with my office,” he said. “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 and not subject to the jurisdiction of the program.”

Separately, the FBI was expected to interview a former congressional page today who may have received suggestive electronic messages from Mr. Foley, the young man’s attorney said.

“They (FBI) will question Jordan Edmund concerning his knowledge, if any, about former congressman Mark Foley,” attorney Stephen Jones told the Oklahoman. The meeting was to occur in Oklahoma City, where Mr. Edmund has been working on a gubernatorial campaign, Mr. Jones said.

He said last week that Mr. Edmund was willing to talk to the FBI and the ethics panel. He also said Mr. Edmund “was a minor when the alleged events described in the media occurred.”

Mr. Jones said there was “no physical involvement between” his client and the former congressman. The attorney also said the two were never together privately.


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