- The Washington Times - Friday, October 13, 2006


An Illinois lawmaker who as an overseer of House pages acted to stop former Rep. Mark Foley from e-mailing a Louisiana page in late 2005 testified for more than three hours yesterday before House investigators.

Rep. John Shimkus, who testified in private, told reporters later that in retrospect, he wished he had handled the episode last year differently.

“Having 20/20 hindsight, a lot of things would have been done differently,” Mr. Shimkus said.

Mr. Shimkus has said he kept the two other House members overseeing the pages in the dark as he confronted Mr. Foley last fall. Mr. Shimkus, chairman of the House Page Board, has said he was following the wishes of the boy’s parents by not telling the other two lawmakers of overly friendly e-mails sent by Mr. Foley to a former page.

A four-member ethics investigating panel, operating in closed session, is hearing key witnesses with knowledge of how Republicans handled several alarms raised about Mr. Foley’s conduct over the past five years. The Florida Republican resigned Sept. 29 after he was confronted with sexually explicit instant messages sent to other former male pages — not the episode that Mr. Shimkus testified about.

Mr. Shimkus said he testified to assist the investigators in finding out “who knew what, when and where.”

Meanwhile in Arizona, a law-enforcement official said federal prosecutors have opened a preliminary investigation into a camping trip that an Arizona lawmaker took with two former pages and others in 1996.

Rep. Jim Kolbe, Arizona Republican, took the former pages as well as staff members and National Park Service officials on a Fourth of July rafting trip in the Grand Canyon in 1996, his spokeswoman, Korenna Cline, said yesterday.

An accusation related to the trip was given to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Phoenix, but it was not immediately clear whether it was related to any contention of improper activity by Mr. Kolbe.

The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, described the inquiry as preliminary. A spokeswoman for the Justice Department declined comment.

Miss Cline said the rafting party included five current staffers, two former pages and Mr. Kolbe’s sister. Nothing inappropriate happened on the trip, she said. She did not know who the pages were or what year they worked for Mr. Kolbe, but she said they paid their own way.

At the time of the trip, Mr. Kolbe, the only openly homosexual Republican in Congress, served on a subcommittee that oversaw the national park system. He visited the park to look at National Park Service operations and fire reconnaissance.

Mr. Kolbe, 64, was pulled into the unfolding scandal involving Mr. Foley when he said this week that a former page had complained in 2001 or 2002 about e-mails the page had received from Mr. Foley that made him feel uncomfortable. Mr. Kolbe said he referred the matter to the House clerk and that someone from Mr. Kolbe’s office confronted Mr. Foley.

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