By Bob Roehr
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has fired an employee with Michigan connections for igniting the Mark Foley scandal. At least one blogger is questioning whether that employee was acting on his own or was doing so with the knowledge of HRC. A spokesman for HRC has denied that.
The story began with the anonymous blog stopsexualpredators, established on July 28 with the self-described mission of “exposing sex predators before they can get to our kids.” There were a handful of postings during August and September, largely copied from Wikipedia and other archival sources, with a focus on congressional misdeeds.
The first new material appeared on Sept. 21 when four e-mails were posted by the blogger, not directly by the authors themselves, ostensibly from congressional staff members of one level or another. All of the writers were male and all contained some reference to Mark Foley. Given the scope of sexual predatory activity in this country, that seems to be a remarkable coincidence.
Three days later, on Sept. 24, the blog “published” a handful of electronic exchanges between Foley and a former page. It was the first time that evidence of Foley’s inappropriate exchanges had passed beyond the rumor stage to become widely available. That kicked off the ensuing political and media frenzy.
The blogger made a subsequent plea for documentation on sexual rumors involving two other Congressmen, both of whom happen to be Republican.
“I’m not interested in media interviews,” the blogger pleaded, hiding in anonymity. He also claimed, “I am not employed in Democratic politics.”
Others were not so sure. Examining the history of the postings, the bloggers at Radaronline concluded, the “sole raison d’etre seems to have been to get the Foley ball rolling…Of course, if these e-mails are legit, it means that the ‘interns’ somehow stumbled upon the blog, despite the fact that it had not yet been linked to by any other sites, and was virtually indetectible to Google, which ranks sites according to the number of incoming links.”
They also noted, “Whoever promoted the story [of the salacious Foley e-mails] on DailyKos [a popular and influential liberal political blog] did so only 12 minutes after the fateful post went live at 11:06 a.m.” It suggests the timing was collusion more than serendipity.
Tracing the electronic tags attached to e-mails sent to stopsexualpredators, another blogger [stopoctobersurprises] was able to determine that the computer receiving them was registered to HRC, and was located in Michigan. HRC has only one employee in Michigan, Lane Hudson, who was hired to coordinate their get out the vote drive in that state.
Hudson, 29, was a delegate to the 2004 Democratic National Convention. He has served as a staff aide to former South Carolina Gov. Jim Hodges and U.S. Sen. Fritz Hollings. “L. Hudson” currently is listed as living on Capitol Hill just a few blocks from a Senate office building. His “My Space” profile says his sexual orientation is gay.
With his cover was blown and threatened with being “outed,” Hudson told his HRC supervisor of his activities. HRC Vice President David Smith said he learned of it on the morning of Oct. 24. He was completely surprised by the revelation, “It was like a punch in the gut.”
Smith says the employee was fired “within two hours…because he was operating political activity outside that approved by HRC, and using HRC resources inappropriately.” Both are violations of HRC employment policies. He cited personnel confidentiality issues in declining to confirm the name of the individual involved.
Smith called allegations that they knew of the blog ahead of time and approved of it “just completely false.” He thought it appropriate that Foley had resigned and he should be “fully prosecuted” for any laws that he might have violated.
FOLEY INVESTIGATION WINDS DOWN
In other developments, the House ethics committee appears to have wrapped up its investigation of the Foley matter and will issue its report later this year, though not before election day.
Two curious aspects of the investigation are that the committee did not hear from former Rep. Foley himself, nor did it call retiring Rep Jim Kolbe, the only openly gay Republican member of the House. Kolbe is reported to have been aware of Foley’s electronic exchanges as early as 2000 and have spoken with his colleague about them.
This suggests that the investigation is focusing on congressional aspects of oversight of the page program, and of who knew what and when, rather than on Foley’s conduct.
Back in Florida, a second male has stepped forward to say he was abused by the same priest that Foley has charged molested him. That man, identified only as John Doe No 26, has filed suit against the Archdiocese of Miami seeking $10 million in damages.
Doe, now 40, claims he was molested when he was 12 or 13, at the top of the bell tower of the church where he served as an altar boy. When he saw a photo of the priest in question, “all of my nightmares came back.” The priest has since retired and is living at a family home in Malta, an island in the Mediterranean. He has denied the allegations.