House Republican Leader John A. Boehner criticized Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other party leaders on Tuesday for their "entirely inadequate" response to the sex scandal that has ensnared freshman Rep. Tim Mahoney (D-Fla.).
Boehner and his GOP colleagues would like Pelosi and her leadership team to answer questions about whether they had heard allegations that Mahoney paid one of his former congressional aides $121,000 to keep quiet about a rumored affair.
Pelosi told reporters at a press conference Monday that she was unaware of the alleged pay-off until ABC News reported it earlier that day. But spokeswomen for Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), who chaired the party's campaign arm when Mahoney won his seat in 2006, and Maryland Rep. Chirs Van Hollen, the current chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, both acknowledged that their bosses had confronted the Florida Democrat about a rumored affair earlier this year.
“This is a gravely serious matter, and to date, the collective response from Speaker Pelosi, Congressmen Emanuel, Congressman Van Hollen, and Congressman Mahoney has been entirely inadequate," Boehner said in a statement released by his office.
Boehner and his GOP colleagues are familiar enough with these scandals; after all, Mahoney won his House seat after revelations surfaced that ex-Rep. Mark Foley had exchanged inappropriate e-mails with high school-aged boys in the congressional page program. After a lengthy investigation, the ethics committee eventually determined that aides to former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) failed to pursue these allegations fully.
Now that the situation is reversed, Boehner and other leading Republicans want their counterparts to answer some of those same tough questions about what they knew and when they knew it. The Republican leader issued his statement hours after Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole, the Republicans' campaign chairman in the House, called on the party brass to come clean about what they first heard about Mahoney's alleged affair and when they first heard it.
"Congressman Mahoney and House Democratic leaders must provide these answers to the American people at once," Boehner said. "They should not be permitted to hide behind the shield of a nonfunctioning House ethics committee or any convenient loopholes in House rules."
UPDATE - A Pelosi aide said the speaker would like the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct to begin investigating these allegations "without delay."
“Immediately upon learning of the allegations against Congressman Mahoney yesterday, Speaker Pelosi publicly urged the bipartisan Ethics Committee to investigate the matter," Pelosi spokesman Nadeam Elshami said. "She believes the investigation should proceed without delay."
But Boehner and other House Republicans have constitently criticized the ethics panel for failing to investigate alleged misconduct since Democrats took power.
His full statement follows the jump.
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