What did the Boehner and Hastert Know and When Did They Know It?
Boehner’s boner: The world found out about GOP Rep. Mark Foley’s sexually tinged emails to a 16 year-old male House page yesterday, but at least one key member of the Republican House leadership has known about them for about a year.
If one of the leaders knew about Foley’s emails, it seems likely that others did too — and that members of the GOP leadership have engaged in a strategy to keep the story out of the media until after next month’s elections.
Based on the content of Foley’s emails it is possible that he could be facing jail time for using the Internet to solicit sex with a minor. If that is so, the leadership could be guilty of covering up a crime.
Evidence of this includes a significant change in the reporting on the story yesterday by the Washington Post. Majority Leader John Boehner gave the Post one story Friday afternoon but changed his retelling of events later in the day, apparently after a discussion with House Speaker Dennis Hastert. The Post dutifully revised its story but offered no explanation for the change.
In fact, the only reason we know that the Post revised the story is because BuzzFlash.com caught it:
This Sentence Was Changed in the Following Washington Post Story on Foley: “…Foley and a 16-year-old page. Boehner said he told House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), and that Hastert assured him “we’re taking care of it.”It was not immediately clear what actions Hastert took. His spokesman had said earlier that the speaker did not know…” (as copied from the Post’s search engine on morning of 9/30).
That sentence became this sentence: “House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told The Washington Post last night that he had learned this spring of inappropriate “contact” between Foley and a 16-year-old page. Boehner said he then told House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). Boehner later contacted The Post and said he could not remember whether he talked to Hastert.” That’s Quite a Factual Change. Washington Post, Please Explain. 9/30
When Boehner spoke with Roll Call last night, he and Hastert were the same page:
Boehner strongly denied media reports late Friday night that he had informed Hastert of the allegations, saying “That is not true.”
In other words, “We’re not lying — we’re just incompetent.” Come on. Why didn’t the senior leadership know? How is that possible?
It isn’t. Foley’s flirtatious email exchange occurred late last summer. At least one member of the GOP leadership, Rep. Tom Reynolds, chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), was informed about Foley’s emails sometime in the fall:
_The congressional sponsor of the page, Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-La., said he was asked by the youth’s parents not to pursue the matter, so he dropped it.
_Alexander said that before deciding to end his involvement, he passed on what he knew to the chairman of the House Republican campaign organization, Rep. Thomas Reynolds, R-N.Y. Reynolds’ spokesman, Carl Forti, said the campaign chairman also took no action in deference to the parents’ wishes.
_Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., chairman of the Page Board that oversees the congressional work-study program for high schoolers, said he did investigate but Foley falsely assured him he was only mentoring the boy. Pages are high school students who attend classes under congressional supervision and work as messengers.
_The spokesman for Speaker Dennis Hastert, Ron Bonjean, said the top House Republican had not known about the allegations. Shimkus said he learned about them in late 2005.
It’s telling that the boy’s congressman apparently went directly to Tom Reynolds, chair of the Republican’s campaign for the House this year, with news of the brewing scandal. But it is not credible that Reynolds never bothered to tell senior House leaders.
The only alternative is that Hastert and Boehner have been sitting on the scandal for almost a year. Now the question is, what have they done to suppress the information.