GOP Reps Knew Of Foley E-Mails In 2005

Senate Leader Bill Frist, right, with Rep. John Boehner, far left,, Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, and Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., standing. Frist makes a statement about the resignation of Rep. Mark Foley, (R-Fla), before signing the Military Act of 2006, in the Capitol, Friday, Sept. 29, 2006, in Washington. Six-term Republican Foley of Florida resigned from the U.S. Congress on Friday, in the wake of questions about e-mails he wrote a former teenage male page. (AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson)
Rep. Thomas Reynolds, head of the House Republican election effort, said Saturday he told Speaker Dennis Hastert months ago about concerns that a fellow GOP lawmaker had sent inappropriate messages to a teenage boy. Hastert's office said aides referred the matter to the proper authorities last fall but they were only told the messages were "over-friendly."

But Democrats said Sunday that their Republican counterparts should have kept Democrats in the loop – and now must conduct a thorough investigation.

Reynolds, R-N.Y., was told about e-mails sent by Rep. Mark Foley and is now defending himself from Democratic accusations that he did too little. Foley, R-Fla., resigned Friday after ABC News questioned him about the e-mails to a former congressional page and about sexually suggestive instant messages to other pages.

"The improper communications between Congressman Mark Foley and former House Congressional pages is unacceptable and abhorrent. It is an obscene breach of trust," Hastert, R-Ill., Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Majority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said in a written statement Saturday evening. "His immediate resignation must now be followed by the full weight of the criminal justice system."

On Friday, Boehner told The Washington Post he had learned about Foley's e-mails in late spring and that he told Hastert soon after. Boehner said Hastert appeared to know already of the concerns surrounding Foley. However, shortly after his interview with the Post, Boehner told the newspaper he was unsure if he had spoken with Hastert.

Read the statement from Dennis Hastert's office

Read Rep. Foley's E-mail Exchange (from the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington)
The House leaders said it is their duty to ensure House pages are safe. They said they are creating a toll-free hot line for pages and their families to call to confidentially report any incidents, and will consider adopting new rules on communications between lawmakers and pages.

The boy who received the e-mails was 16 in the summer of 2005 when he worked in Congress as a page. After the boy returned to his Louisiana home, the congressman e-mailed him. The teenager thought the messages were inappropriate, particularly one in which Foley asked the teen to send a picture of himself.

The teen's family contacted their congressman, Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-La., who then discussed the problem with Reynolds sometime this spring.

"Rodney Alexander brought to my attention the existence of e-mails between Mark Foley and a former page of Mr. Alexander's," Reynolds, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said in a written statement Saturday.