The scandal that is currently engulfing the US Republican party over the former Congressional children’s caucus leader is getting even worse.
News has now broken that not only did Representative Mark Foley, who resigned on Friday, send sexually explicit emails to a 16 year-old former assistant, but also that senior Republicans knew as early as Autumn of 2005. And despite that, they still left Foley as head of the Congressional children’s caucus.
Among those with prior knowledge are the House Majority Leader, John A Boehner, and Thomas Reynolds, New York Republican Representative and Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Reynolds also claims that he informed the third most senior Republican in the country, House Speaker Dennis Hastert, of concerns that he shared with the minor’s employer, Louisiana Republican Rodney Alexander. He said, “Despite the fact that I had not seen the e-mails in question, and Mr. Alexander told me that the parents didn’t want the matter pursued, I told the Speaker of the conversation Mr. Alexander had with me.”
It now seems that Republicans knew of earlier emails, going back as far as 2003. At the same time, House Democrats on the committee overseeing the programme on which the teenagers were enrolled were kept in the dark.
The scandal could not come at a worse time for the GOP, less than a month away from the mid-term congressional elections in which the Republicans are expected to make losses and, perhaps, lose control of one or both of the House and Senate.
Foley’s Florida-16 district, until now fairly safe Republican territory, looks vulnerable as his name may have to remain on the ballot and Palm Beach voters may not be too keen to vote for a known paedophile, even if he can be replaced after polling. But if the scandal engulfs the Republican Congressional leadership, their problem becomes far worse.
Update: In an ironic twist, it has emerged that Speaker Hastert was running a campaign to “Keep kids safe in cyberspace” while ignoring predators in his own ranks.