Time ignores other scandal in Foley conflagration


A Time article on the resignation of former Rep. Mark Foley reported Republican concerns about losing Foley's seat in the November elections, but the article failed to address the ethical questions that surround the House Republican leadership's handling of Foley's alleged actions.

A September 30 article by Time reporter Tim Padgett on the resignation of former Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) left out key facts that give the scandal national relevance. Absent from Padgett's article is any mention of the disclosure, reported by The Washington Post and Roll Call, among other outlets, that the House Republican leadership has known for months about emails reportedly sent by Foley to a 16-year-old-male congressional page.

Padgett reported that Foley quit the day after ABC News broke the news that Foley allegedly sent the page emails that were, in Time's words at the top of the article, "possibly inappropriate." ABC News reported after its initial story on September 28 that there were emails and instant messages, some of which it posted on its weblog several hours before Padgett's article went up. Padgett suggested that the reason Foley resigned so quickly might not have been because "there might be similar e-mail or instant messages lying in the hard drives of other teens in the capital," but because the communications expose Foley as gay, rumors of which he had "frequently worked to squelch." But the content of the emails and instant messages itself suggests yet a third possible reason for Foley's resignation, which Padgett apparently dismisses as insufficient -- their content indicates that a member of Congress in his early 50s was reportedly engaging in sexually explicit communications with one or more underage charges of the House of Representatives. Foley reportedly sent sexually explicit communications to one or more minors, but Padgett is apparently taking the position that the reason Foley resigned is "just as likely" to be that he has been exposed as gay.

While Padgett reported Republican concerns about losing Foley's seat in what was considered a safe Republican district, he completely ignored reports that the House Republican leadership apparently engaged in a months-long cover-up of Foley's alleged actions. According to Roll Call:

At least four Republican House Members, one senior GOP aide and a former top officer of the House were aware of the allegations about Foley that prompted the initial reporting regarding his e-mail contacts with a 16-year-old House page. They include: Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds (N.Y.) and Reps. Rodney Alexander (R-La.) and John Shimkus (R-Ill.), as well as a senior aide to Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and former Clerk of the House Jeff Trandahl.

Boehner strongly denied media reports late Friday night that he had informed Hastert of the allegations, saying "That is not true."

Reynolds refused to comment.

Shimkus, who chairs the page board, and Trandahl, who administered the program, met with Foley in 2005 after learning of Foley's e-mail exchange with the former page by Alexander. Shimkus released a detailed statement Friday night.

House sources said that Foley denied any improper sexual activity when confronted by Shimkus and Trandahl. Their information only included some August 2005 e-mails that contained no references to sex or other improper behavior, and not the other messages that have been reported by ABC News.

According to a senior House GOP leadership aide, Hastert's office was informed of the interview shortly after it occurred, but Hastert himself was not told.

While Roll Call has Boehner flatly denying that he had informed Hastert of the matter, according to the Post, Boehner has given conflicting statements about whether he talked with Hastert, as Joshua Micah Marshall of the blog Talking Points Memo noted. The Post reported that Boehner initially said that he informed Hastert of the matter when he learned of it in the spring, but then Boehner "later contacted The Post and said he could not remember whether he talked to Hastert." So Roll Call and the Post have reported Boehner apparently saying three different things: he talked to Hastert, he can't remember whether he talked to Hastert, and he did not talk to Hastert. Time makes no mention of the issue of whether the speaker of the House was informed of Foley's alleged conduct.

Yes, the potential loss of Foley's seat to a Democrat could bear on whether the GOP loses its majority in the House in November. But beyond the scandal's implications for Foley's seat is the significance of the action or inaction of the current House leadership. Padgett's article simply ignored this issue.

Time Magazine
Mark Foley Scandal, 2006 Elections
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