Today’s NY Times reports the earliest yet date by which a House Republican leader was informed of Mark Foley’s bizarre attitudes toward Congressional pages:
A former Congressional page approached Representative Jim Kolbe, Republican of Arizona, as long as six years ago to report feeling uncomfortable by messages sent from Representative Mark Foley, but a spokeswoman for Mr. Kolbe said Monday that it was unclear if Mr. Kolbe had forwarded the complaint to House leaders.
Representative Jim Kolbe speaking in Lebanon last year. Mr. Kolbe is a former member of the board that oversees the page program.
Mr. Kolbe, a former member of the board that oversees the House page program, remembers talking to a page with concerns about Mr. Foley’s conduct, said Korenna Cline, Mr. Kolbe’s press secretary. But Mr. Kolbe could not remember whether he confronted Mr. Foley directly, Ms. Cline said, or delegated the matter to his staff.
Reached by telephone on Monday while he was traveling in Europe, Mr. Kolbe declined to answer questions about the page’s complaint or Mr. Foley’s case.
At the time of the complaint, Kolbe was acting chair of the Congressional committee which oversaw the page program.
The whole Foley scandal now begins to resemble those heart-wrenching stories you read about murdered children, whose parents or guardians were supposedly monitored by the local version of Child Protective Services. Invariably, caseworkers neglected to do their job. Appointments were missed. Or else they were kept but the social worker ignored the tell tale signs of abuse and let the perpetrator continue his or her abuse of the child. Always in these cases there were multiple points at which something could’ve been done if someone had had the moxie to intervene aggressively and see that something is done.
Similarly, Republicans were given multiple opportunities to uncover Mark Foley’s aberrant behavior and do something about it. But each time such an opportunity came along the individual either punted or passed the buck up the chain of command; thereby letting the abuser continue his pattern of abuse.
File this under the Too Little, Too Late Department:
A bipartisan four-member panel of the ethics committee is sending a letter to each member of the House of Representatives, urging them to interview former pages and pass along information that could be pertinent to the inquiry into Mr. Foley or other members of Congress.
Ms. Cline, Mr. Kolbe’s spokeswoman, said Monday that her office had done precisely that. Last week, after the situation regarding Mr. Foley came to light, a member of Mr. Kolbe’s staff suggested that the former page report the information to the clerk of the House, Karen Haas.
“The congressman — or our office — did not know of any other pages or former pages that felt uncomfortable around Foley,” Ms. Cline said in an interview. “We were only aware of this one.”
You were aware of “this one” in 2000. Why are you only now reporting it to the Ethics Committee??
Finally, news reports have already pointed out that both Jim Kolbe and Mark Foley are gay. Conservatives are mumbling that the Republicans have been done in by the Lavender Mafia in Congress. I want to make clear that I do not feel that way. Mark Foley’s behavior is not odious because he is gay. It is odious because he abused children and many more heterosexuals than gay people do that.
However, one does have to wonder whether perhaps a bit of Kolbe’s hesitance to take more action regarding this complaint might’ve stemmed from not wanting to hurt a gay colleague. Though this is a supposition on my part. I’d say Kolbe picked an excellent time to retire. Timing couldn’t be better. If he hadn’t done so before the controversy erupted, he’d be a prime candidate to join Hastert on his way out the exit for their neglect of their oversight responsibilities regarding the affair.