The Republican leadership in the House has plenty for which to answer over their laissez-faire treatment of Mark Foley when allegations of improper contact with underage pages first came to their attention. Despite knowing of Foley’s “inappropriate” behavior this spring, Majority Leader John Boehner did nothing about it, after hearing that the parents of the page wanted the matter dropped. Regardless, the actions of Foley reflected badly on the GOP and the House, and action should have been taken at the time to punish Foley. Surely, the Republicans could at least have removed him from the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children.
However, Democratic protestations on this matter seem rather hypocritical, given the history of their party and page scandals:
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who introduced a privileged resolution friday night to require an ethics probe, criticized Republican leaders, who she said, “have known of the egregious behavior of Congressman Mark Foley, yet were prepared to adjourn tonight without an Ethics Committee investigation.”
“The investigation must determine when Mr. Foley sent the inappropriate emails, who knew of them, whether there was a pattern of inappropriate activity by Mr. Foley with pages or former pages, when the Republican leadership was notified, and what corrective action was taken once officials learned of any improper activity,” she added.
This is true, and Pelosi is right to demand an ethics probe, to which John Boehner immediately agreed and the House supported unanimously. However, let’s please recall the case of Gerry Studds and his sexual relationship with a 17-year-old page in 1983. This didn’t involve a few e-mails and explicit instant messaging; Studds started a sexual relationship with a minor, and then announced in a press conference that people should mind their own business about his private life. The House censured Studds (he turned his back on them as the censure was read), but the Democrats endorsed Studds for five subsequent elections. The only reason he no longer serves in the House is because he retired. He didn’t even lose his chair on the House Merchant Marine and Fishing Committee until 1995, when the Republicans took over and abolished the committee.
I agree that the Republicans have some ‘splaining to do. However, Democrats hardly covered themselves in glory when running the show for the last decade they controlled Congress in a situation that was objectively more serious than Foley’s pathetic cyber-sex efforts.
NOTE: Daniel Crane (R-IL) also got censured at the same time for a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old female page, and apologized to the House. He got defeated in his re-election bid.