It frustrates reporters like me who are anxious to put the jigsaw puzzle together. We're like journalistic detectives, ready to compare testimony and timelines in the question of who-knew-what-when about Foley's proclivity for teenage male pages. But I can't help but be a little bit impressed at the tight reign the investigators and their staff are managing to keep on information. Not only is the investigative subcommittee keeping a tight hold on testimony, they've also been able to control what witnesses and their attorneys say afterward.
So what can we deduce from what's happened so far? If you look at who's been questioned, in order of appearance (see below) the committee is obviously building a timeline of Foley events and who was alerted to them. Naturally it gets sticky when the accounts begin to, shall we say, differ.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert has implied that he first learned of Foley's page problems last month, when Foley resigned. But that's not what House Majority Leader John Boehner has said. Nor Republican Campaign Chairman Congressman Tom Reynolds. Both Boehner and Reynolds claim they spoke with Hastert about Foley much earlier: last spring. And then there are Hastert's aides who -- some say -- knew years ago.
Congressman Reynolds told his story to the ethics subcommittee right before Hastert. Reynolds has said publicly he can't remember exactly when he talked to Hastert, or details of the conversation. But the subcommittee investigators may have jogged his memory, seeing as how they kept him behind closed doors for about three hours.
The one you really have to wonder about is Hastert's chief of staff: Scott Palmer. He broke the subcommittee record by testifying for a marathon session on Monday -- more than six hours, into the evening. He'd barely said anything publicly, only that he disputed an account by Foley's former chief of staff Kirk Fordham who said he warned Palmer about Foley a long time ago. What kinds of questions could Palmer be answering hour after hour after hour? You gotta think that room got hot and stuffy.
Until we can find out more, there's another headline... one that won't make the front pages. The lack of leakage in this election year on such a hot political topic is a testament to the four members of Congress who make up the ethics subcommittee: two Democrats and two Republicans. Imagine that: they're working side-by-side, keeping information close to the vest as they move quickly and methodically through their investigation, nary a leak or a spin to be found. In Washington D.C., that's news.
House Ethics Page Investigative Subcommittee witnesses, in order of appearance:
- Geraldine Gennet, Chief House Counsel, 10/10/2006 PM 15:11:00
- Peggy Sampson, Page Program (majority), (10/11/2006) AM
- Wren Invester, Page Program (minority) (10/11/2006) PM
- Rep Shelley Moore Capito, R-WVA, Page Board (10/12/06)AM
- Kirk Fordham, former Foley COS, (10/12/2006) PM
- Rep. John Shimkus, R-IL, (10/13/2006) 12 noon
- John F. Leekley, House Page Residence Hall Director 10/15/06 pm
- Danielle Savoy, Rep. Alexander scheduler 10/16/06 9:30 am
- Royal Alexander, COS Rep. Alexander 10/16/06 1 pm
- Rep. Dale Kildee, D-MI, Dem. Member of Page board. 10/16/06 440p
- Paula Nowakowski, Rep. Boehner's Chief of Staff 10/17/2006 am
- Wilson Livingood, House Sgt. At Arms 10/17/2006 pm
- Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-AZ, 10/18/06 AM
- Liz Nicolson, Chief of Staff Rep. Mark Foley, 10/18/06 pm
- Jeff Trandahl, former Clerk of the House, 10/19/06 09:05:00
- Rep. John Boehner, R-OH, 10/19/06 2:30 pm
- Sally Vastola, Ex Dir NRCC, Reynolds Aide, 10/23/2006 9:50 am
- Scott Palmer, Hastert COS, 10/23/006 13:55:00
- Rep. Tom Reynolds, R-NY, 10/24/2006 09:30:00
- Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-IL, 10/24/2006 13:30:00
- Mike Stokke, Hastert deputy chief of staff 10/24 4pm