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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Republicans' Live Boy; or, It's Not the Crime, It's the Cover-Up

By now, you've almost certainly heard that Floridan Republican Congressman Mark Foley was forced to resign after news broke of, apparently, years of his inappropriate (and possibly illegal) on-line activities with underage House Pages. There are some awkward emails from the past year or so, as well as some pretty bad IMs from a couple of years back, that paint a disturbing picture of Foley.

Now, there's no question that Foley's regination was the right thing, as is the universal condemnation of what he did. The problem is that the Republican leadership both knew about Foley's Page problem for almost a year now and they did nothing but try to cover it up. Everyone from Majority Leader John Boehner to Speaker Dennis Hastert knew about the issue, and, rather than force Foley out a long time ago--or offer a full-blown investigation--they chose to sweep the mess under the rug.

Among the more incredible details is that the House Page Board not only did nothing to stop Foley, but they purposely left the Board's sole Democrat out of the process, thereby keeping the whole thing soley under Republican control. They have no one but themselves to blame for the unravelling of this cover-up.

As much as the Right Cheddarsphere loves to blame the words and actions of even the most fringe Democrats on the leadership of the party (even going so far as to say, for example, that the Democratic National Committee calls Bush a murderer, though only those farthest-out and least connected to the leadership ever get close), I would have expected to see more criticism directed at the Republican leadership. But after a tour of the usual suspects, I found that only Owen condemns the corruption at the top of that ladder.

And there is an incredibly sad irony to all of this: Foley was Co-Chair of the Missing and Exploited Children Caucus in the House, and remained so right up until his resignation Friday. Foley was apparently instrumental in getting the "Adam Walsh Child Protection Act of 2006" passed--a law that, as Glenn Greenwald points out, Foley was violating. Josh Marshall has been following this story closely (see this post for a taste of that sad irony, just as an example).

There are also some Wisconsin connections. No Wisconsin Republicans are in the House leadership, of course. However, our very own F. Jim Sensenbrenner, as Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, helped shepherd the Adam Walsh Act through Congress, and, in fact, stood near Foley as Bush signed the bill. (Foley's House website has been scrubbed, and apparently they're working fast to get his name off of everything. The Google search that led me to that link named Foley in the caption to the picture, but the caption now does not name him! This is a screenshot of another photo that's been scrubbed, but the caption still indicates that Foley and Sensenbrenner were there together.) An email to Sensenbrenner's campaign asking about that day--and about whether Sensenbrenner's made a statement on the matter, since I couldn't find one--has not yet been returned.

And Mark Green, now running for governor, also has Foley connections. He's not released a statement (nothing here, here, or here) that I can see. But Green should be at least a little concerned, since a $1000 contribution from Foley's PAC helped Mark Green first win his seat in 1998. Again, an email to Green's campaign about this has gone unreturned.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Mark Green (and F. Jim) are members of the most corrupt Republican Congress--the most corrupt Congress, period--in memory. That the leadership would willing protect an internet predator is just a drop in the bucket here, yet typical of what you might expect of a Republican Caucus that would change its rules to protect indicted leaders.

It is a shame that it's taken the proverbial "live boy" to make that clear to so much of the public.

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