GOP Aide Resigns Amid Foley Scandal

Rep. Tom Reynolds, R-N.Y., claps as first lady Laura Bush waves at the end of at a fundraiser in Amherst, N.Y., Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2006. Reynolds, a four-term congressman, who is involved in a heated re-election race against Democrat Jack Davis, denied Tuesday knowing what his top aide, Kirk Fordham, might have done on behalf of a disgraced lawmaker Rep. Mark Foley of Florida in the days before he resigned following revelations of sexually explicit messages sent to underage male pages.
A congressional aide who counseled Rep. Mark Foley to resign last week amid the House page scandal submitted his own resignation on Wednesday, as the investigation intensified into a scandal rocking Republicans five weeks before midterm elections.

"I never attempted to prevent any inquiries or investigation," the aide, Kirk Fordham, said in a statement.

Fordham told The Associated Press he alerted House Speaker Dennis Hastert's office two years ago about Foley's conduct. Fordham said when he was told 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."

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

Fordham was once Foley's chief of staff. At the time of his resignation he had been serving in the same capacity for Rep. Tom Reynolds, a member of the GOP leadership who has struggled to avoid political damage in the scandal's fallout.

"It is clear the Democrats are intent on making me a political issue in my boss's race, and I will not let them do so," Fordham said.

Republicans have been struggling to put the scandal behind them, but another member of the leadership, Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri, said pointedly during the day he would have handled the entire matter differently than Hastert did, had he known about it.

"I think I could have given some good advice here, which is you have to be curious, you have to ask all the questions you can think of," Blunt said. "You absolutely can't decide not to look into activities because one individual's parents don't want you to."

Foley resigned last week after he was reported to have sent salacious electronic messages to teenage male pages. He has checked into an undisclosed facility for treatment of alcoholism, leaving behind a mushrooming political scandal and legal investigation.

Also Wednesday, the Justice Department ordered House officials to "preserve all records" related to Foley's electronic correspondence with teenagers.

Acting U.S. Attorney Jeff Taylor for the District of Columbia sought protection of the records in a three-page letter to House counsel Geraldine Gennet, according to a Justice official speaking on condition of anonymity.

Such letters often are followed by search warrants and subpoenas, and signal that investigators are moving closer to a criminal investigation.

At the same time, FBI agents have begun interviewing participants in the House page program, according to a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation. The official declined to say whether the interviews were limited to current pages or included former pages.

Meanwhile, Hastert worked to hold onto his job as the GOP rank and file worried that the pre-election drip, drip of damaging political news isn't over yet.

Hastert said he first heard details of the Foley matter last Friday when the story was breaking. The No. 2 House Republican, Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, and Reynolds, the House GOP campaign chair, said they had spoken with Hastert about a complaint concerning a former page from Louisiana last spring after being told about it by Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-La., who had sponsored the teen.