- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 17, 2006

ASSOCIATED PRESS

The House ethics committee yesterday questioned a Louisiana Republican congressman’s top aide who told the House speaker’s office last fall that a former male page received questionable e-mails from Rep. Mark Foley.

Royal Alexander, chief of staff to Rep. Rodney Alexander but no relation, defended his office’s handling of the matter after the teenager’s parents complained about Mr. Foley, Florida Republican.

“I’m very proud of our office. I’m very proud of our page and his family and what they’ve been through,” Royal Alexander said after his closed-door testimony. He would not answer questions.

After him, the committee heard from Rep. Dale E. Kildee of Michigan, the lone Democrat on the House Page Board, made up of three lawmakers and two House officers who oversee the program. Pages are high school students who attend a congressional school for their studies and perform messenger duties for lawmakers.

Mr. Kildee has said he never was informed about Mr. Foley’s approaches to pages.

Rodney Alexander’s office last fall complained to House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert’s staff about Mr. Foley’s friendly — but not sexually explicit — e-mails to the former page whom the Louisiana lawmaker had sponsored.

Rodney Alexander has said the former page contacted his office last fall, saying Mr. Foley had asked about the teenager’s age, then 16, and his birthday. Mr. Foley also had requested a photo.

Mr. Foley resigned his seat Sept. 29 after he was confronted with more sexually explicit instant messages to other former pages.

According to previous statements, Royal Alexander contacted aides to Mr. Hastert, Illinois Republican, last fall. This timeline has revealed a major discrepancy, because Mr. Hastert has said that was the first time his staff heard about Mr. Foley’s contacts. Mr. Foley’s former chief of staff said he first contacted Mr. Hastert’s top aide in 2002 or 2003.

Royal Alexander last fall didn’t show the messages to Mr. Hastert’s staff members but described them and said the boy’s parents wanted the contacts to stop.

Mr. Hastert’s staff then contacted the House clerk at the time, Jeff Trandahl, and Rep. John Shimkus, Illinois Republican and Page Board chairman. Mr. Foley assured the two that he was only acting as a mentor and agreed to demands that he cease contact with the youngster. Mr. Shimkus, who testified last week before the ethics panel, acknowledged that he never informed Mr. Kildee or the other Republican on the board, citing the wishes of the parents not to pursue the matter.

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