We told you so...10 years ago

Disgraced former congressman Mark Foley came out as a gay man on October 3 amid an Internet sex scandal. Journalist Kurt Wolfe says he gave Foley the opportunity 10 years ago.

BY John Caldwell

October 10 2006 12:00 AM ET

By the time
journalist Kurt Wolfe was being cited by The Advocate
for a now-infamous article about the congressional
closet in summer 1996, he had already outed congressmen
Mark Foley and Jim Kolbe on a New York City radio station,
then on a cable-access television show he produced
titled Out in New England. Using Wolfe as one
of several credible sources, The Advocate contacted
Kolbe and Foley, asking about their sexual
orientation. Both men said it wasn’t relevant. Kolbe
came out publicly within a week of Wolfe’s reports.
Foley, who resigned on September 29 amid allegations
that he made sexual advances toward underage male
pages, did not.

Wolfe, 56, is now
a freelance reporter in Georgia.

Why did you decide to out Foley and Kolbe? We decided to look into the voting records of
congressmen who had voted for the [1996] Defense of
Marriage Act and see if we could find out who was gay
and closeted. We weren’t in the business of outing.
For us it was an issue of hypocrisy. We needed three
independent sources. We were able to get those on
Foley.

What kind of sources? One of our sources for Foley had been a
[congressional] page. He was an adult when I was
speaking to him, but he was a minor when he was a page.
He told me that he had been the recipient of many
inappropriate sexual communications from Foley. That
changed the whole story. I contacted [Foley’s]
offices for comment. I told them that we were running the
story and that one of our sources was a former male
page. The response was pretty nasty and ended with a
hang-up. Now the angle is now “who knew what,
when.” I can’t [attest] to the current [GOP]
leadership [knowledge], but I can [attest] to
Foley’s staff. They were notified.

The story you ran was on Foley’s homosexuality and
his DOMA vote, not on the page. Why?
I couldn’t get another source to
substantiate it, and this young man would not come
forward. He was terrified. Had he been a minor when I
spoke to him, I would have gone to the police. But he was an
adult. I’m going to contact my local
congressman and tell him that if they have a
congressional hearing, I’m willing to testify under
oath about this.

What happened after Kolbe came out? I got a call from his press secretary about
eight months later thanking us for the story. They
wanted to let me know that everything was cool and
that he had never been happier. To his great credit, Jim
Kolbe did the right thing and his voting record
changed.

Another congressman you investigated was antigay
Louisiana Republican Jim McCrery, who was the subject of
a 1992 Advocate cover story. How do you think the
Foley story will affect other closeted members of
Congress
? I think closeted gay people in
Congress are looking at [the Foley scandal] to see
what happens. And it’s going to really hit the fan if
they were involved in the kind of behavior that Foley was
involved in.

Do you have any regrets about outing
people
? Yes, my inability to get the nongay
press to pay attention. I really got blasted for
outing these congressman. We weren’t outing them as
gay; we were outing them as hypocrites. Either people
thought it was sensational or they were pissed off.
Most of the people who were angry at me were gay.
I’m still angry that we couldn’t get people
interested in this.

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