Welcome Instapundit readers! **NEW UPDATE AT 9PM BELOW**
A friend of mine in DC is telling me that the Associated Press is reporting the imminent resignation of US Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL).
For those of you who haven’t seen the news about his email exchange with a 16-year old Congressional Page, the Washington Post had it on p. A7 this morning.
The Democratic opponent of Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) is calling for an investigation into an e-mail exchange that Foley conducted last year with a 16-year-old boy who had worked as a congressional page.
Foley, 52, has served in the House for six terms and is seeking reelection. He said that the five e-mails he wrote to the boy were harmless and that their publication is part of an attempt by Democrats to smear him.
In the brief but chatty e-mails, which were first reported by ABC News, Foley asked how old the boy was, inquired what he wanted for his birthday, requested a picture of the young man and told him that he had just finished a long bike ride and was going to the gym.
According to ABC, the boy forwarded the e-mail that requested his picture to an unidentified congressional staffer and wrote that the e-mail was “sick sick sick sick sick.” In another e-mail to a staffer, ABC reported, the boy wrote: “Maybe it is just me being paranoid, but seriously. This freaked me out.”
I was going to wait to see how this turned out before blogging on it. But with reports coming out now about a resignation, I figured it was time to post on this.
First, in the interest of full disclosure, I would like to state that I have personally contributed to Rep. Foley’s House campaigns and his abandoned US Senate race. I was friends with a number of his Congressional staff when I lived and worked in the DC metro area. And I interacted with Rep. Foley on several occasions at business-related social functions and official meetings. He was always a gentleman and one of the more knowledgeable Members of Congress I had ever met.
That being said, three immediate thoughts came to my mind when I first read this story earlier today:
First — a 16-year old!?!? I just don’t get that!!!
Second — Think a long, long time before you put stuff in email. It never goes away and travels all around the world.
Third — Foley will be lynched, while Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) was given a pass for having his call-boy boyfriend running a prostitution ring out of Frank’s townhouse and he has won re-election ever since.
Aside from that, I am interested in seeing how the facts play out before casting judgment on anyone involved.
**FURTHER UPDATE** — It sounds like a criminal investigation will (and should) occur.
Hours earlier, ABC News had read excerpts of instant messages provided by former male pages who said the congressman, under the AOL Instant Messenger screen name Maf54, made repeated references to sexual organs and acts.
In a statement, Foley said, “I am deeply sorry and I apologize for letting down my family and the people of Florida I have had the privilege to represent.”
**MORE** – The folks at National Review Online have a look at the political fallout in Florida’s 16th District in the wake of Foley’s departure.
And, here’s a history of Congressional sex scandals… one-stop shopping!
Even more Foley round-up over at StopTheACLU.
**9PM UPDATE** – There is an obsession by some commenters as to why I never “outed” Mark Foley if I knew he was gay, assuming I did.
Unlike Liberals, I do not believe that being gay and Republican is a crime. In fact, I don’t think it is a crime to be gay with any political persuasion. Those on the Left obviously disagree since they are obsessed with “outing” people.
But my question is, why did the St. Petersburg Times not expose Foley as a possible child sex predator if they had the story last November?
Efforts to reach the boy were unsuccessful, but he told the St. Petersburg Times last November, “I thought it was very inappropriate. After the one about the picture, I decided to stop e-mailing him back.” The Times didn’t publish the comments until Friday.
What responsibility does the St. Petersburg Times have to expose allegations of a very serious crime when they become aware of it….versus sitting on it until Election time? It really makes me wonder what they were thinking. Tom Bevan of RealClearPolitics agrees with me.
So if the St. Pete Times could have nailed the story down a long time ago and didn’t, that leads us to two fairly divergent pieces of speculation: Was the paper planning on springing the story closer to the election and got scooped by CREW and ABC News? Or was the paper deliberately ignoring the story in an effort to cover for Foley? Neither seems all that likely to me, so I’m at a loss as to what motivated the St. Petersburg Times to keep a lid on this story for the better part of a year.
What is going on here?