Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Throw Dennis from the train (plus: the wingersphere plays 21)
The latest drama to play out across the blogosphere in the Foleygate/Pagegate case involves a blogger, who in a rather self-congratulating and painstaking way, walked his readers through a rather tedious "outing" of a 21 year old young man alleged to have been one of the IM chattees with the disgraced former Florida congressman. Earlier this evening, RawStory linked to a post by someone called "Wild Bill", who blogs at Passionate America (link removed by chastened blogger). Since then, they have retracted the link, saying the young man in question is NOT the recipient of the original emails that alerted -- or failed to alert -- House leadership to Foley's taste for high school boys.

Drudge is now leading with the story that, as Wild Bill claims (though curiously, without crediting Wild Bill)... the young man in question was 18, and not underage, at the time of the dirty IM exchange with Foley. The question of how old the young man is (and keep in mind that even if he IS one of the recipients, he is only one of up to FIVE pages and former pages with whom Foley may have had inappropriate conduct) is the latest gambit by those on the right to drown the Foley scandal in the bathtub. With House Republicans forming a lethal circular firing squad and attacking one another with abandon at this point, a GOP blogswarm by pajama people trying to recreate their Rathergate "gotcha" at the expense of the interns, is apparently their only way out. ("Democrats are just as bad, look at Gerry Studds!" just didn't do it... and I'm not sure "that's why the gays shouldn't run for office" is exactly a winning strategy, either.)

(As of the last update, Wild Bill was quite excited about "being on TV soon. ... mind that 15 minutes, buddy, you could wind up on crystal meth and broke like all the other child stars...) Sadly, all he will likely accomplish with this "scoop" is to subject the young man he names (and whose picture and myspace page he exposes) to death threats from the wack-jobs who populate the right wing of the political asylum. Apparently, Mr. Bill, who apparently also outed the young man on his radio show this afternoon, is unaware of just how crazy the assorted gun nuts, religious wackos and angry Bush-bots on the right by and large are. He should read more LGF and Free Republic, so that he can truly appreciate who he's dealing with.

Meanwhile, RawStory posts this retraction of their earlier link-love:


The blog Passionate America has revealed the identity and published a photograph of an alleged victim of disgraced Rep. Mark Foley in a post that was pulled and later re-posted with additional information.

RAW STORY can verify that the young man in question is not the Congressional page from the emails that originally surfaced; with that in mind, a direct link to the Passionate America post is not provided here.

RAW STORY has learned that the recipient of the Foley emails is currently 17 (and was 16 at the time of the correspondence).

Passionate America contends that the young man they identified took part in some of the instant message conversations obtained by ABC news. In those messages, the boy explicitly identified himself as being under the age of 18.

If the boy was over the age of 18 at the time of the messages, Foley's communication with him would likely still be considered criminal. Sex predator legislation is generally written bearing in mind that law enforcement sting operations rely on undercover officers pretending to be minors.

However, even if he is now 21, the man identified could still have been as young as 16 at the time of the messages. ABC has stated that they are in possession of chat logs from as much as five years back.
Okay, let's say for the record that one of the pages in question is now of age. How does that help the Republicans to deal with the remainder of the scandal, including the fact that the page isn't said to be getting IMs from Foley now, but rather when he was, in fact, underage... which, by the way, puts the scandal back at least three, maybe four years. Is that helpful? I think not.

And then there's this:

The Hotline reported earlier today that Kirk Fordham, who was chief of staff for NY Congressman/NRCC chair Tom Reynolds, resigned, and he has an interesting pedigree:


Why did Kirk Fordham resign today?

Accounts vary. According to a senior Republican official in Washington, Fordham, in the spring of 2006, promised Rep. John Shimkus, the chairman of the page board as well as a staff member in Speaker Dennis Hastert’s office, that he would make sure Foley kept out of trouble.

Fordham had spent ten years as Foley's chief of staff and is one of his closest friends. He was acting here in two capacities: as a representative of Reynolds, the chair of the campaign committee, and as a friend to Foley. From the perspective of the GOP leadership, whatever assurances Fordham gave were enough to prevent Hastert’s staff from recommending any further action.

But Shimkus, in a statement to ABC News, said he did not speak to Fordham about the "overly friendly" e-mails. Fordham has also denied seeking to quash any investigation.

Fordham denies interfering with any investigation into Foley's conduct and told the AP that he warned a senior Congressional aide about Foley's behavior two years ago. His friends believe he is a scapegoat for others in the leadership who ignored warnings about Foley.
In his statement, Fordham said he would not "let the Democrats... make a political issue in (his) boss's race," and says he will fully cooperate with the FBI investigation.

Fordham had earlier in the day claimed that he informed Dennis Hastert's chief of staff, Scott Palmer, about Foley's page problem two years ago, a bomblet that can't have gone over well with fellow Hill staffers. And Brian Ross at ABC News had earlier reported that Fordham had been involved in trying to hush up the Foley emails and keep them out of the hands of Democrats, not to mention the full page board.

Long story short, I believe Hastert won't last much longer:


As the FBI investigation picked up steam, with agents contacting former pages across the country, there were new allegations that Foley's suspect behavior towards pages was no secret to the Speaker of the House and his top staff for at least three years.

Kirk Fordham, former chief of staff for Foley, told ABC News today that sometime in late 2003, he told the Speaker's chief of staff that Foley was getting too close to young male pages.

Fordham says the Speaker's aide, Scott Palmer, then met with Foley. Fordham also said the Speaker knew about the meeting.

Fordham says there had been a series of warnings from page supervisors that Foley was spending too much time with the pages in ways that were inappropriate and would not stop.

Pages themselves say they had been warned by Republican staff to be careful around Foley.

Reynolds says he personally talked to Hastert about Foley earlier this year. And all of these people will likely be talking to the FBI in the next several days. I sure hope their stories match up better by then.

So, as TIME asks, will Foley gate bring down Hastert? At this stage I would vote that somebody big has to resign over this, and if past is prologue, Republicans tend to sacrifice their speakers.

Related: At last! Evidence that Mark Foley may actually have been drunk ...! ... at least once (and in a dormatory...)

Update: Hastert's chief of staff fires back at Fordham.

And the Hotline Blog's conventional wisdom meter swings away from Hastert.

Update 2: Hastert says he would resign, but not because of principle. He'd do it only if it helps the GOP...

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posted by JReid @ 10:12 PM  
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