Sunday, October 01, 2006

CREW Calls For House To Appoint Outside Counsel To Investigate Foley Page Scandal

CREW Calls For House To Appoint Outside Counsel To Investigate Foley Page Scandal

Contact: Naomi Seligman Steiner of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, 202-841-5096;

WASHINGTON, Sept. 30 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) today called upon the House of Representatives to appoint an outside counsel to investigate the House leadership's role in covering up Rep. Mark Foley's (R-FL) inappropriate email exchanges with a sixteen-year-old former House page.

Several members of the Republican leadership have now admitted to knowing for nearly a year that Rep. Foley engaged in email exchanges with a sixteen-year-old former House page. These members, including Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and Reps. Rodney Alexander (R-LA), John Shimkus (R-IL) and Tom Reynolds (R-NY) have all claimed that they failed to take action because the boy's parents did not want to pursue the matter. The decision not to investigate further left other House pages unprotected and vulnerable to a potential sexual predator.

Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert's (R-IL) decision to have Rep. Shimkus review the page system is particularly ludicrous, given that it was Rep. Shimkus who, despite having been made aware that the boy and his parents were concerned about Rep. Foley's emails, readily accepted Rep. Foley's explanation that he was merely mentoring the boy. Rep. Shimkus is the chairman of the House page board.

Although the matter allegedly was raised before the House page board, the failure to insulate pages from further contact with Rep. Foley and the failure to implement measures to protect the pages suggests that the leadership failed to take the matter seriously.

Because the House leadership has demonstrated a shocking lack of judgment in dealing with Rep. Foley's conduct, those in charge cannot now be trusted to examine the matter candidly. To ensure a thorough investigation of this sordid episode and the roles of everyone involved, it is imperative that the House immediately appoint an outside counsel. To that end, the chairman and the ranking member of the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, Reps. Doc Hastings (R-WA) and Howard Berman (D-CA) respectively, should jointly choose an outside counsel with prosecutorial experience to get to the bottom of this sorry affair. It is the very least the House can do for the teenagers entrusted to its care.

Melanie Sloan, CREW's executive director, said today, "It is horrifying to learn that some members of Congress were more concerned with covering up a potentially embarrassing situation than with protecting the teenage pages." Sloan continued, "the American people, and particularly the parents of other pages, have a right to know if congressional leaders put politics above the safety of children."