Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Congressional Sex Scandals

Closed-Door Admonitions and Meetings

Almost from the very start of Foley's time in Congress, some male pages felt uncomfortable with the attention he showed them. None of the pages involved with Foley have said that there was ever any physical contact, just suggestive talk. Still, he had a reputation on the Hill. Mark Beck-Heyman, a Republican page in 1995, told the Washington Post that his interactions with Foley made him feel "weird," and showed the newspaper a handwritten note from Foley suggesting they get together when the 1996 Republican National Convention was held in San Diego. More than a dozen other male pages told the Post that Foley was very friendly to the point of making some of them uncomfortable. When Beck-Heyman joined the page program a departing page warned him to be "very careful" around Foley, according to the newspaper.

The first complaint from a page about Foley appears to have occurred in 2000 or 2001. After Foley asked a page for a photograph over email, the young man went to Representative Kolbe's office to ask that something be done. According to Vanity Fair, "Kolbe has said he recalls notifying both Foley's staff and the page clerk's office, but saw no evidence of any follow-up."

Jeff Trandahl
Jeff Trandahl

The situation grew worse in 2003 after Foley showed up late at night at the page dorm. He was drunk, and turned away at the door. The behavior alarmed the clerk of the House, Jeff Trandahl, who is charge of the pages. The episode lead Foley's chief of staff Fordham to alert the House leadership that the Florida politician was becoming too friendly with the pages and that others were starting to notice. Fordham hoped an admonition from House Speaker Dennis Hastert would convince Foley to cease his contact.

After Foley's texts became public, the alleged cover up by Republicans in higher positions would be seen as more damaging to Republican fortunes overall than what Foley had done. Hastert sought to corral the Republican leadership in a meeting the day a House ethics investigation was demanded by Nancy Pelosi, suggesting the Speaker was trying to get everyone's stories about Foley in line, according to Vanity Fair. The meeting turned into a conference call after some Republicans objected to the tactic, with Sheehy and Bachrach quoting an unnamed source with knowledge of the meeting as saying "That to me is where Hastert attempted a cover up." The Washington Times newspaper called for Hastert's resignation after questions of what he knew and when he knew it surfaced. After the Democrats won a majority in the House in 2006, Hastert decided not to run for the minority leadership position.

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