Ex-GOP Aide: Hastert Knew 3 Years Ago

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., speaks to reporters regarding the resignation of Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., Monday, Oct. 2, 2006, on Capitol Hill in Washington. AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke

A senior congressional aide said Wednesday he told the office of the Republican leader of the House of Representatives about worrisome conduct by his former boss, Rep. Mark Foley, toward teenage pages more than three years ago, long before officials have acknowledged becoming aware of the issue.

Kirk Fordham told The Associated Press that when he learned about Foley's inappropriate behavior toward pages, he had "more than one conversation with senior staff at the highest level of the House of Representatives asking them to intervene," alluding to House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

Hastert's office denied the explosive allegations.

While conservatives have been debating whether Hastert, one of the most powerful men in Washington, should resign, the embattled legislator has said he will not step down. The uproar has enveloped Republicans who were already at risk at losing control of Congress in elections Nov. 7 in which all 435 seats in the House are at stake.

The conversations took place long before the e-mail scandal broke, Fordham said, and at least a year earlier than members of the House Republican leadership have acknowledged.

Fordham, once Foley's top aide, is known to be gay. CBS News has learned that several other top Republican staffers who handled the Foley matter are also gay. Their role in this controversy has caused a firestorm among GOP conservatives, who charge that a group of high-level gay Republican staffers were protecting a gay Republican congressman, reports CBS News correspondent Gloria Borger.

Foley's attorney, David Roth, announced for the first time that Foley is gay, but insisted Foley never had sexual contact with a minor.

That precise wording may turn out to be very important, because in Washington D.C., 16-year-olds — the minimum age of a page — are not considered minors when it comes to having sex, reports CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson.

Fordham resigned Wednesday as chief of staff to Rep. Thomas Reynolds, a member of that leadership.

Fordham spoke to the AP after ABC News quoted unidentified Republican sources as insinuating that he had intervened on behalf of Foley, his former boss, to prevent an inquiry into Foley's conduct.

"This is categorically false," Fordham said. "At no point ever did I ask anyone to block any inquiries into Foley's actions or behavior."

The longtime Capitol Hill aide said he would fully disclose to the FBI and the House ethics committee "any and all meetings and phone calls" regarding Foley's behavior that he had with senior staffers in the House leadership.

"The fact is even prior to the existence of the Foley e-mail exchanges I had more than one conversation with senior staff at the highest level of the House of Representatives asking them to intervene when I was informed of Mr. Foley's inappropriate behavior," Fordham said.

Fordham said one staffer to whom he spoke remains employed by a senior House Republican leader. He would not identify the staffer.

"Rather than trying to shift the blame on me, those who are employed by these House leaders should acknowledge what they know about their action or inaction in response to the information they knew about Mr. Foley prior to 2005," Fordham said.

A Capitol Hill aide for more than a decade, Fordham said he resigned because he did not want his role in the Foley matter to harm his boss Reynolds' re-election bid.

  • Jennifer Hoar

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