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Good Riddance

It’s a pity that more scandal-ridden Congressmen (and Senators) don’t have the decency to resign immediately (or at all, in many cases) when caught: Foley Resigns From Congress Over E-Mails

Foley’s two-sentence statement gave no reason for Foley’s decision to abandon a flourishing career in Congress. But several officials said the resignation had been prompted by the e-mails, and he took his action as fresh details emerged about electronic messages he had sent…

Campaign aides had previously acknowledged that the Republican congressman e-mailed the former Capitol page five times, but had said there was nothing inappropriate about the exchange. The page was 16 at the time of the e-mail correspondence.

The page worked for Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-La., who said Friday that when he learned of the e-mail exchanges 10 to 11 months ago, he called the teen’s parents. Alexander told the Ruston Daily Leader, “We also notified the House leadership that there might be a potential problem,” a reference to the House’s Republican leaders.

On Foley’s side, this is how ugly matters like this should be handled — ideally it wouldn’t happen, but when exposed, one should simply resign. No transparent denials, no obfuscation of the matter, no shifting of blame — just take responsibility for it.

I just wonder why, if Alexander notified the House leadership about this matter “10 to 11 months ago”, they didn’t seem to do anything about it. Well, of course I know why (avoiding bad publicity, or just avoiding the issue itself out of squeamishness), but one would think they’d know that something like this would come out eventually…most likely right before the election, when it could do the most damage.

Whatever the House leadership may have been doing about it behind the scenes (if anything), taking so long and still not reaching a resolution indicates poor leadership on Hastert’s part. The evidence available clearly shows that Foley was ethically compromised, even if his contacts with the boy had not (yet) culminated in any criminal acts…what more “investigation” would be required than to verify that the email messages were authentic?

Good riddance, though, even if Foley’s departure wasn’t as prompt as it should have been. Given the nature of the place and the political environment this season, I have to wonder if there aren’t more Congressional scandals like this ready to erupt over the next month. This may just be an appetizer for a full month of October surprises.

ADDENDUM: An interesting detail in the A(wt)P story is that an organization named Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) knew about Foley’s emails, and had not published them (but had brought them to the attention of the FBI) pending the resolution House investigation. The article claims that they published the emails on their website only after ABC News broke the story.

CREW describes itself as “a non-profit, progressive legal watchdog group”, and their blogroll contains links to blogs ranging from the hard to the completely loony left…which makes their circumspection in the matter seem a little odd. There’s no clear indication as to when they learned of the emails or how long they’ve been sitting on them — nor when they asked the House ethics committee for an investigation (the implication is that they only made the request today, after the matter became public).

“I question the timing,” as they say. Not that it excuses Foley’s actions…if the emails are authentic, it shows Foley was preying on an underage page. But if this “progressive” organization knew about this for some time and waited until a politically opportune moment to act on it, what does that say about their own ethics?

2 comments to Good Riddance

  • It’s not clear that the leadership was indeed informed. Hastert, for one, denies it.

    It’s worth asking, though, why no such to-do occured when the Democratic leadership not only allowed the late Gerry Studdss to remain in Congress even after being censured for actually having sex with an underaged page (something Foley has as yet not been proven guilty of). Studds even turned his back on the House in defiance when the resolution of censure was read.

    Not the decent thing- either on his part, or that of the Democratic leadership, which has no business at this point finding fault with Hastert and the Republicans!

  • Aaron_J

    I’m no fan of Hastert, but I find annoying all these vague statements that someone in some office was “informed” of the problem. In a nasty, underhanded place like Congress, imagine how many rumors circle on a daily basis. Can we expect anyone to chase down every single “report”. I’m not sure, but I doubt it’s a realistic expectation.