- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 5, 2006

3:45 p.m.

The House ethics committee opened an expansive investigation into the unfolding page sex scandal today, approving four dozen subpoenas for witnesses and documents as House Speaker Dennis Hastert held his ground against pressure to resign.

“I’m deeply sorry this has happened and the bottom line is we’re taking responsibility,” Mr. Hastert, R-Ill., told at a news conference outside his district office.

“Ultimately, the buck stops here,” the speaker said of the controversy enveloping the House and the page program, a venerable institution almost as old as the Congress itself.

Mr. Hastert was abruptly changing the tactics he has followed since the scandal broke last week. As recently as yesterday, he blamed Democrats for the scandal and insisted he had done nothing wrong.

The committee’s chairman, Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., said a newly formed subcommittee’s investigation “will go wherever our evidence leads us.”

Asked if embattled Mr. Hastert was among those subpoenaed, Mr. Hastings would not comment. Mr. Hastings said the subpoenas cover lawmakers and staff as well as appointed officers of the House.

Mr. Hastert’s spokesman Ron Bonjean said the speaker has not received a subpoena from the ethics committee but was willing to testify. “If the ethics committee asks him to, of course,” Mr. Bonjean said.

The committee’s senior Democrat, Rep. Howard Berman of California, said the investigation should take “weeks, not months.”


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