Thursday, October 12, 2006
The Foley Case Hits the HillWelcome to the first installment of Congress Watch, a weekly feature here at the Junkheap. This is also the first of its kind, as the Junkheap will now feature general news and more concentrated bursts of big stories or uncovered aspects of the news.
Today, with Kirk Fordham set to testify before the laughable House ethics panel, we'll be focusing on the Foley scandal and its reverberations. First, how about a sample of what to expect from that testimony? From CNN:
An ex-congressional aide will tell a House ethics panel Thursday that he delivered warnings about former Rep. Mark Foley to House Speaker Dennis Hastert's top aide years ago.
Kirk Fordham, who once served as Foley's chief of staff, plans to testify under oath that he warned more than one congressional official several times about Foley's inappropriate behavior with pages and that the warnings came much earlier than Republican leaders have reported.
And now it seems that there is a bit of doubt (shock shock) about Foley's alcoholism. How could this be?? See, one of the keys of his defense is that the poor fellow was a secret drinker, ashamed of his addiction. But...well, it just turns out not to be so. So sayeth The Hill:
Meanwhile, the case seems to be dragging down the re-election effort of yet another, as yet mostly uncovered, member of the House: Ohio Representative Deborah Pryce, one of Foley's close friends:
When former Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) entered alcohol-abuse treatment amid scandal over his relationships with congressional page boys, his attorney said the ex-lawmaker never drank alcohol in public.
Attorney David Roth categorically stated that the disgraced lawmaker hid his abuse by drinking alone.
But the photograph from The Hill’s archives shows Foley holding a glass of wine at a Capitol Hill reception on May 19, 2004.
He went to the reception with several other House members. This and other evidence suggests Foley was a social drinker and a wine aficionado.
The photograph and first-hand accounts of Foley’s public drinking told by acquaintances in Washington and Florida could reinforce doubts about the veracity of the claim that a drinking problem fueled his behavior, which included carrying on sexually explicit instant-message chats with former pages.
COLUMBUS, Ohio, Oct. 11 — Representative Deborah Pryce is a former municipal court judge, a Republican and a member of the House leadership who has represented her central Ohio district for 14 years. She is also friends with Mark Foley, the congressman who resigned in the page scandal, as she told Columbus Monthly for a feature it published just last month.
Ms. Pryce always thought she would have a difficult re-election campaign this year in a state raked by Republican scandals. But since Mr. Foley quit, she said in an interview on a tense day of campaigning here, her own internal polls have measured a steady drop in support under the weight of attacks by Mary Jo Kilroy, her Democratic opponent.
Ms. Kilroy has emphasized Ms. Pryce’s connections to Mr. Foley, who was on a list of five people Ms. Pryce said she considered Washington friends in the Columbus Monthly interview.
“I’m totally convinced,” Ms. Pryce said, her voice faint, as she described why her support had declined. “All our polling showed we were going in the right direction until this happened. It fell precipitously.”
To take a step away from the House and the Foley scandal, here's another so-far-neglected story from the Senate: Arlen Specter and one of his top aides are being investigated for funneling $48.7 million in Pentagon spending to clients of the aide's lobbyist husband, Michael Herson. From the Seattle PI:
WASHINGTON -- Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter has acknowledged the FBI is looking into allegations that one of his aides illegally helped her lobbyist husband get federal dollars for his clients.
The Republican lawmaker on Wednesday provided The Associated Press a copy of a letter sent by the FBI in August to his office that said staff member Vicki Siegel Herson is under investigation in connection with allegations reported earlier this year.
USA Today first reported in February that Specter helped direct $48.7 million in Pentagon spending over the past five years to clients of the staff member's lobbyist husband, Michael Herson. Specter has said the institutions that ultimately got the money were represented by people not associated with Herson. He added that he was never lobbied by Herson or his firm.
Siegel Herson was Specter's legislative assistant for appropriations at the time.
Specter said the FBI asked for and received the findings of an internal investigation of the matter conducted by his former chief of staff.
Specter, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has denied violating any Senate ethics rules.
Makes you wonder what was really going on when Specter changed his convinctions and votes so often.