On one night in 2002 or 2003, an allegedly inebriated Foley showed up at the pages' dorm after a 10 p.m. curfew and tried to gain entry, according to an account provided by two congressional sources, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter. Foley was turned away by a guard. It is not known if the pages were ever aware that Foley lurked outside their door, but word of the incident reached the House Clerk, who notified Foley's chief of staff, Kirk Fordham. This was not the first time that Fordham had learned of his boss's behaving, in that modern all-purpose euphemism, "inappropriately." Fordham decided that it was time to go to a higher authority, so he went to see Scott Palmer, chief of staff to the Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert. That, at least, is what Fordham is prepared to tell investigators, according to a knowledgeable source who requested anonymity in discussing the probe. Voters may not understand the legalistic ins-and-outs of campaign-finance scandals or know much about an influence peddler like Jack Abramoff beyond his name. But they can follow the details of a sex scandal, especially one that they can imagine harming their own children. It was not necessary to read Foley's leering (and worse) e-mails and instant messages to former congressional pages—in one, he asks "Do I make you a little horny?"—to be disgusted by an obvious abuse of power and trust. If enough voters express their feelings about the scandal at the polls in November (or by just staying home), the Republicans could lose control of Congress. There are plenty of theories about why the leadership did not take the matter more seriously. In the Washington power culture, incumbents are generally protected from the consequences of their own actions. That's especially true in a Congress where one party has ruled both houses for years; the concept of meaningful oversight has been essentially forgotten. And in a party ruled largely by conservatives, and built with the help of evangelicals, many of whom view homosexuality as unnatural and homosexual acts as sinful, leaders may also have had a special reluctance to scrutinize the sexual behavior of their colleagues or their staffs. In the end, the Republicans may not be able to escape the irony of the Foley scandal. In 2004, the GOP helped get President George W. Bush re-elected by turning out the base, especially the Christian right, to vote for state bans on gay marriage. In 2006, the GOP may lose control of Congress because it didn't try harder to investigate a gay congressman who was also a sexual predator.
Behind the scenes, attention increasingly focused on Foley's after-hours visit to the pages' dorm several years ago. If Foley were really behaving that outrageously so long ago, why hadn't more been done to stop him? The answers may start with the testimony of Fordham, the former Foley chief of staff who is now cooperating with federal investigators.
Fordham is prepared to tell investigators that he was warned "on two or three occasions" about Foley's "overly friendly" socializing with young male pages.
He was informed by Jeff Trandahl, then the Clerk of the House, who oversees the page program. On one occasion, sometime in 2002 or 2003, Trandahl told Fordham about Foley's nocturnal adventure to the pages' dorm. Trandahl told Fordham that Foley "appeared intoxicated," according to the source who provided Fordham's account to NEWSWEEK.
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