Creep of the Week: The House ethics committee

By | 2018-01-16T16:53:16-04:00 December 14th, 2006|Opinions|

The verdict is in about the Mark Foley scandal: he was a bad boy and everybody knew it, but since no rules were technically broken nobody in any leadership position should be punished.
The New York Times summed it up like so in a Dec. 9 editorial, “Watching our elected leaders in action, it’s not surprising that Americans wonder if there is any limit to the crass misbehavior that members of Congress are willing to tolerate from their colleagues to protect their privileges and hold on to their own jobs.”
For those of you who have forgotten, Foley is the Republican congressman who was stalking young male House pages via dirty email and instant message chats. He was forced to resign once the story became public.
The report the House ethics committee coughed up Dec. 8 was graciously called “a 91-page exercise in cowardice” by the Times. The committee might as well have had the thing printed up on a bunch of Fruit of the Loom boxer briefs because the clear intent of the report was to cover their asses.
But why? Straight white Republicans in Florida are a dime a dozen. Why did so many people risk their careers to help hide a homo?
According to the Times, “The committee concluded that other people preferred to remain willfully ignorant — to protect Mr. Foley’s secret homosexuality, to avoid partisan embarrassment or for other political reasons.”
Other political reasons? What could that possibly be?
I’ll give you a hint: rhymes with “honey.” And “sunny.” And “funny.”
That’s right: money. Foley had a lot of it – or, at least, he had a lot of connections to really rich donors, due in large part to a rich boyfriend according to an article in the latest issue of Vanity Fair.
“I never regarded Mark really as being in the closet,” Rand Hoch, a Democratic Party activist, told Vanity Fair. “Whenever I bumped into him, whether it was at a gay event or … our outdoor mall in West Palm, he was pretty aggressive about going for whatever he wanted. It’s not like the party structure here didn’t know [he was gay], but they didn’t care because he got them access and social connections. He was excellent at networking.”
Sean Strub, a former campaign manager for Democrat Dennis Koehler, told Vanity Fair that Foley invited him to fancy parties. “I’m very much driven by my passion for issues and wanting to change things,” said Strub. “Mark had a very different set of values. He wore gold chains and liked to go to parties. He was about his ambition and his Mercedes. It was clear that, more than anything else, Mark wanted to be a player.”
You can say that again. Unfortunately, Foley still thought he was on the junior varsity team.
The big question is will any changes be made in the page program to keep them safe from predators? We’ll see what happens in January when lawmakers return. Let’s hope they surprise us.

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