Some leading conservatives have tried to excuse, justify, or downplay the scandal surrounding Rep. Mark Foley’s (R-FL) predatory behavior towards underage pages. We debunk their claims below:
EXCUSE #1: Foley’s initial e-mails seemed harmless, “over friendly”.
Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) said he dropped the matter when Foley told them, “When I was a young person, an adult (who) became my mentor inspired me to be a congressman, and that’s all I’m doing.” Foley said if he was guilty of anything, Shimkus said, it was of being “overly friendly.” [St. Louis Tribune, 10/1/06]
“[T]he actual notes were relatively innocuous — there was nothing sexual in those notes.” [Newt Gingrich, Fox News Sunday, 10/1/06]
FACT: At least 11 House members and staff, all Republicans, knew of the inappropriate emails sent by Foley to a page in 2005. In the e-mails, Foley asked the page to “send me a pic of you” and said about another young page, “he’s in really good shape.” The boy told House officials that Foley’s messages “freaked him out” and were “sick, sick, sick, sick, sick.” Dr. Timothy M. Osberg, a psychologist and professor of psychology at Niagara University, said that the e-mail, coupled with the boy’s reaction to it, “should send up red flags.”
EXCUSE #2: The parents didn’t want the matter pursued.
Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-NY) said Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-LA) “told him that he had spoken with the page’s parents. They didn’t want the matter pursued, he said, ‘so I thought it had to be pretty well satisfied.’” [Buffalo News, 10/1/06]
FACT: The House leadership had an obligation to protect the dozens of pages who are under their care. At the very least, Foley’s emails should have been passed on law authorities, and the full House page board should have been informed. Read more