Respected D.C. publication lays the final blow to the "Democrats did this to us" October surprise excuse. Time for Hastert to roll over and admit his career is screwed? Or should he try to keep sweeping things under the covers even tho he may be licked anyway?
Longtime Republican was source of e-mails
By Alexander Bolton
The source who in July gave news media Rep. Mark Foleyâ€™s (R-Fla.) suspect e-mails to a former House page says the documents came to him from a House GOP aide.
That aide has been a registered Republican since becoming eligible to vote, said the source, who showed The Hill public records supporting his claim.
The same source, who acted as an intermediary between the aide-turned-whistleblower and several news outlets, says the person who shared the documents is no longer employed in the House.
But the whistleblower was a paid GOP staffer when the documents were first given to the media.
The source bolstered the claim by sharing un-redacted e-mails in which the former page first alerted his congressional sponsorâ€™s office of Foleyâ€™s attentions. The copies of these e-mails, now available to the public, have the names of senders and recipients blotted out.
These revelations mean that Republicans who are calling for probes to discover what Democratic leaders and staff knew about Foleyâ€™s improper exchanges with under-age pages will likely be unable to show that the opposition party orchestrated the scandal now roiling the GOP just a month away from the midterm elections.
Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) yesterday called for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) to testify about what and when they knew of Foleyâ€™s contact with former pages (see related story).
House GOP leadership aides have said they would like to see investigations of Foley examine how the story became public. ABC Newsâ€™s website first reported the e-mails just as Congress was about to recess for the election.
The explosive disclosures about Foleyâ€™s communications with teenage pages have overshadowed Republican legislative accomplishments during their final week in town. They have become the preoccupation of a capital press corps that has little else to write about now that Congress is in recess and Election Day is still a month away.
Republicans say the timing of the scandal is evidence of a political dirty trick orchestrated by Democrats. They have drawn comparisons to negative reports about President Bush that surfaced before the 2000 and 2004 campaigns.
Shortly before the 2000 election, it was reported that Bush had been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, and before Election Day 2004, forged documents surfaced calling into question Bushâ€™s National Guard service.
That Foleyâ€™s scandalous communications came to public light during Congressâ€™s final week in Washington was largely determined by the media outlets which obtained the suspicious e-mails in the middle of the summer, said the person who provided them to reporters several months ago.
In an August 2005 e-mail exchange between Foley and a former page, given to reporters this summer, Foley asks the teenager his age, asks him to send a picture of himself, and describes his own work-out activities, including a 25-mile bike ride. The e-mails given to reporters included one sent by the page to a House staffer in which the page described Foleyâ€™s e-mail as â€śsickâ€ť and said it â€śfreaked me out.â€ť The page also informs the staffer that Foley asked what the teen wanted for his birthday.
The e-mails were alarming enough to prompt the pageâ€™s parents in the fall of 2005 to ask their sonâ€™s congressional sponsor, Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-La.), to take steps to stop Foleyâ€™s correspondence.
Alexanderâ€™s chief of staff then told aides in Speaker Dennis Hastertâ€™s (R-Ill.) office about the communication and showed the e-mails to Jeff Trandahl, clerk of the House. That fall, Trandahl and Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), chairman of the House Page Board, met Foley and told him to stop contacting the former page.
But while the e-mails were concerning enough to prompt this action, editors and reporters at various publications did not consider them remarkable enough to write about.
The person who provided the e-mails to several D.C.-based news outlets in July claimed to have no knowledge of who gave them to two Florida papers last year.
D.C.-based media organizations declined to report on the e-mails. But one, ABC News, reported on the e-mails last week after a Weblog, stopsexpredators.blogspot.com, published a few of the exchanges between Foley and the former page. But those blog-reported e-mails did not include correspondence between the page and a House aide in which the teen expressed anxiety about Foleyâ€™s intentions.
After ABC News disclosed the e-mails exchanged last year between Foley and a former page, it reported about much more sexually explicit communications between Foley and a different former page over an â€śinstant messagingâ€ť (IM) software program in 2003.
The first Web report of the relatively tame e-mails appears to have prompted someone to share the explicit IM messages. After ABC News obtained those messages, in which Foley discussed sexual acts with the second former page, a scandal mushroomed on Capitol Hill, and Foley resigned.
The source who provided the e-mails that ABC News first reported on its blog, denied sharing the more explicit IMs.
So while the primary source of the e-mails which kicked off the scandal was a House GOP aide, the trigger of the news coverage was the weblog.
The creator of stopsexpreditors.blogspot.com is unknown. An interview request e-mailed to the site was not returned.