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The Nation

Foley Saga No Shock to Some

The Florida Republican was known to have an interest in younger men, Capitol Hill workers say.

October 03, 2006|Noam N. Levey, Maura Reynolds and Richard B. Schmitt | Times Staff Writers

Beck-Heyman, the former page, said several other male pages in his class also had been approached by Foley. "Mark Foley knew he could get away with this type of behavior with male pages because he was a congressman," he said.

Another former staffer said it was an oft-repeated story around Capitol Hill that Foley's former chief of staff, Kirk Fordham, would sometimes accompany the congressman to keep him out of trouble.

Fordham represents a link between Foley and House GOP leaders. Shortly after leaving Foley's office last year, he became chief of staff to Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds (R-N.Y.), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Reynolds has said he was told this spring about the e-mails that sparked the initial complaint about Foley.

Fordham has not responded to repeated requests for comment from The Times.

Democratic congressional leaders continued Monday to attack the Republican handling of the Foley case.

"This is about a member of Congress who used his position to prey on young children, and a Republican leadership team who set out to cover it up," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

As criticism of GOP leaders mounted, the FBI -- which reported Sunday that it had launched a preliminary investigation of Foley's behavior -- came under fire Monday for not acting more quickly.

The advocacy group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said it sent the FBI the less explicit Foley e-mails in July. The group's officials now have asked the Department of Justice to investigate why the bureau didn't begin its investigation sooner.

FBI officials declined to comment on the complaint.

But a law enforcement official said investigators are trying to determine the scale and scope of potential crimes, and have been reviewing the messages that have become public.

The official, who requested anonymity because of the investigation's sensitivity, said that the bureau hoped to speak with some pages and their families soon to determine whether they would be willing to cooperate with the investigation.

Federal law makes it a crime to use the Internet to solicit sex from anyone under 18 years of age. Offenders can be fined and imprisoned for up to 30 years with a minimum sentence of five years in prison.

As of late Monday, the FBI had not requested access to the computers in Foley's former congressional office.

The office has continued to operate, handling constituent requests and other routine chores, but under the auspices of the clerk of the House.

*

noam.levey@latimes.com

maura.reynolds@latimes.com

rick.schmitt@latimes.com

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