Monday, October 02, 2006

Sex scandal rocks republicans

The Australian reported today that:

A US Republican leader said he had been "duped" by a lawmaker whose explicit e-mails to teenage male aides have embroiled the party in an embarrassing sex scandal just weeks before crucial national elections.

Hoping to fend off accusations that Republican leaders had known for some time of Republican lawmaker Mark Foley's overtures to young congressional pages, House Speaker Dennis Hastert branded his actions "vile'' and "repugnant''.

"He deceived the good men and women in organisations around the country with whom he worked to strengthen our child predator laws,'' Mr Hastert said.

"I have known him for all the years he's served in this House, and he deceived me, too,'' Mr Hastert said of Mr Foley, a veteran Florida lawmaker.

As Mr Foley checked himself into an alcohol rehabilitation center in the face of a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) probe, the White House also moved to distance itself from the scandal, which threatens the already tenuous hold on Congress of President George W. Bush's Republican Party in November 7 legislative polls.

"The House has to clean up the mess to the extent that there's a mess. The President is not responsible for going back and conducting his own personal investigation on this,'' White House spokesman Tony Snow said.

"These are things that happen, and they need to be addressed - and the individuals responsible,'' Mr Snow said.

Mr Foley, a representative of 12 years known for defending the rights of children against sexual predators and campaigning against child pornography, abruptly announced his resignation from the House Friday after some of the sexually explicit messages were reported on ABC television.

ABC reported that a former page complained about e-mails he received from Mr Foley.

On Monday Florida television station WPBF said Mr Foley faxed them a letter saying that "events'' leading to his resignation had "crystallized recognition'' of alcohol and emotional problems.

"I strongly believe that I am an alcoholic and have accepted the need for immediate treatment for alcoholism and related behavioral problems,'' the letter said.

Mr Foley faces an FBI investigation into whether his e-mail and instant messaging exchanges with a 16-year-old male page - as well as earlier communications with other young aides - violated any laws.

The investigation could ironically see him prosecuted under the very child-sex laws he helped to write.

For the Republican Party, though, the scandal has left Mr Foley's once "safe'' seat in Congress vulnerable to capture by the Democrats and threatens to spill over into other congressional races.

Opposition Democrats are hoping to grab control of the House of Representatives, the Senate, or even both congressional chambers in the November elections.

The Democrats accused Republican leaders of covering up Foley's behavior after Hastert earlier admitted that his party had been aware of an "over-friendly'' e-mail sent by Foley in 2005.

The complete story may be found here:,20867,20517043-1702,00.html


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