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We’re proud to have played some small and completely inept role in this, the first and quite possibly most entertaining of October’s surprises. While the news continues breaking (Foley has checked himself into rehab — the Kennedy kind, not the Focus on the Family cure-me-of-the-gay kind), it may be entertaining to step back a bit and examine just how this story happened.

After the jump: When and why Foley was outed, who knew his Page problems and when, why the story was sat on for a year, and just how much Foley’s current and former friends in the House are shitting themselves.

Story so far for cave-dwellers: Mark Foley is a Republican Congressman from Florida. Last week, we linked to creepy emails he sent a 16-year-old male House Page. Then he resigned as ABC went public with explicitly sexual AIM conversations he had with another page (also male). The “dead girls or live boys” cliche lives on.

It begins with Foley’s first run for Congress in 1994, when his GOP opponent alerted the Florida media and anyone else who would listen that Foley was as gay as a male American Idol contestant (since that show had not yet premiered, said opponent presumably used a more appropriate contemporary metaphor). Foley answered the charges, as he would for the next 12 years with increasing stridency, by loudly proclaiming his love for women and their attendant vaginas.

In 1996, Foley voted for the Clinton totally hates the gays too, don’t vote for the crazy old guy Defense of Marriage Act, which made him a principal target in the late-90s outing campaign led by the gay press. The Advocate outed him, the Republican party covered their ears and shouted “we can’t hear you,” and Foley repeatedly sailed to reelection in his safe Republican district.

(A Broward-area New Times writer outed him again in ’03, and now claims that this plastic surgeon is Foley’s “long-term companion.”)

By 2001, Foley’s forbidden love for barely-legal tail was well-known enough for House Republicans to warn incoming pages that Nice Mr. Foley shouldn’t be encouraged. While we don’t doubt this, other page classes seemingly weren’t warned, and had to find out for themselves. A few who contacted us reported that Foley was one of the House’s more popular members among pages, for his friendliness. One told us:

Very nice guy, especially to certain male pages. He spent a lot of time hanging out with us in the cloakroom and I can remember at least one occasion when he even drove by our dorms.

Foley, presumably feeling invincible after surviving all the attempts on his repuation, began getting stupider and more blatant in his flirting — and at some point, someone introduced him to AIM.

His slightly creepy emails freaked out the Louisiana page enough that he told his mother — after kicking around among god-knows-who for a while, the emails were sent off to the St. Petersburg Times last year. The Times assigned two reporters and prepared a story, but as this particular boy had gotten cold feet before the cybering started in earnest, there was nowhere for the story to go. They had slightly creepy emails from an alleged closet homosexual and an underaged teenager who, understandibly, didn’t want his identity revealed.

It was at this point that the Feds were involved, as Foley’s own pet legislation had, hilariously, made his contact with minors online illegal, even though by district law he could actually sleep with any 16-year-old he wanted without involving the cops (unless, of course, he’s into that sort of thing).

The emails continued their merry way through various media outlets afraid to touch them, until they were finally printed publicly by “Stop Sex Predators”, an anonymous blogger who, despite overly breathless prose, seems to know people and have an agenda.

Then we linked, and stupidly proclaimed them fakes. We were quickly (within minutes) set straight (so to speak) by a few informed folks whom we should talked to before posted, but our post gave license to ABC to reopen the story, and a day later, they had one damning, filthy AIM transcript. There’s “36 pages” more of material, which ought to make the next few weeks as entertaining as an October should be.

Now: Hastert and the GOP bigwigs who’ve known about the emails for a year need to make sure the conversation (and the FBI invesigation) remains about the IM transcripts, which are (they’re still claiming) news to them. Meanwhile, the GOP’ers who need this to not be such a big deal a few weeks before the election need to, in the words of Tony Snow, make this just about “simply naughty emails.”

Another fun tidbit: National Republican Congressional Committee head Tom Reynolds is gunning for Denny Hastert’s head. Which might have something to do with the fact that Reynold’s chief of staff is Foley’s former campaign manager and chief of staff, and he’s probably even more implicated in the coverup than Hastert.

The question that remains: Who sent the emails to Stop Sex Predators? Someone made sure this all broke as October began — someone way too smart and Machiavellian to be an actual employee of the Democratic Party.

As we said, we’re just happy we played our small part in this whole scandal. Two or three other House GOP’ers will probably be in a shitload of trouble by the end of this week.

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