Conservatives Repeat Baseless Claim That Foley Scandal Was Timed To Affect Elections

Top conservatives continue to react to the Mark Foley scandal as political operatives instead of as concerned parents. To minimize political fallout, they are spreading the baseless claim that the release of Foley’s emails to underage pages was timed to impact November’s elections:

House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL):

[S]omebody had [Foley’s emails], and, you know, they’re trying — and they drop it the last day of the session, you know, before we adjourn on an election year. [Link]

Rush Limbaugh:

I’m just telling you that the — the — the orgy and the orgasm that has been taking place in the media since Friday and with the Democrats is — it’s all coordinated, and it’s all — it’s all oriented toward the election. There’s no concern about the kid — no concern about the children. [Link]

Tony Blankley, Washington Times editor:

While I don’t have any proof, I will be amazed if Democratic operatives and at least a few Democratic congressmen didn’t know about this and fed it to the media through various obscure blogs and to ABC. [Link]

But the reporters who broke this story have discredited this conspiracy theory:

ABC investigative journalist Brian Ross:

Ross dismissed suggestions by some Republicans that the news was disseminated as part of a smear campaign against Mr. Foley.

“I hate to give up sources, but to the extent that I know the political parties of any of the people who helped us, it would be the same party,” Mr. Ross said, referring to Republicans. [Link]

ABC producer Maddy Sauer:

They were passed to a colleague of mine from a source, not someone from a Democratic campaign, a source on the Hill. And when we talked to Foley’s office about those emails, they seemed to know all about them. “It’s no big deal. He is overly friendly. He’s overly engaging. If he’s guilty of anything, that’s all he’s guilty of. He’s very close with the pages. He has worked with the page program for some time.”

So we published that story, and then almost immediately we began receiving emails from former pages, some going back as far as five years, who said this is the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more here. [Link]

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