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congressman held male pages in high regard

congressman held male pages in high regard


Former congressman Mark Foley, who resigned Friday after being questioned about sexually explicit e-mails to former male pages, gave warm farewell speeches to House pages over the years, saying he took ''a special interest in each and every one'' of them.

Former congressman Mark Foley of Florida told House pages in warm farewell speeches over the years that he took ''a special interest in each and every one'' of them, identifying many of the youngsters by name and thanking them for their service. Foley, who resigned Friday after being questioned about sexually explicit e-mails to male ex-pages, gave the speeches during traditional June ceremonies honoring pages in 2001, 2002, and 2004, according to the Congressional Record.

The comments show a friendly familiarity with some of the teenagers, who wear navy blue uniforms, open doors, and hand-deliver messages for the lawmakers. In a June 6, 2002, send-off, Foley warned ''all of you not to cry in front of me, please, so I can get through this very important day with you without shedding tears as well.''

''Of course we have got several Jasons, a few Laurens. Adam, thank you for the graduation announcement,'' Foley said in the 2002 speech. ''I sent you a handwritten note, and I was actually going to put some money in it as a graduation present.

''Then I realized he would tell all of you, and then I would get hundreds of graduation announcements. So I chose not to. I hope the handwritten note will suffice for your scrapbook,'' he said.

He described taking one of the young men who was the highest bidder in ''lunch with Mark Foley'' to Morton's Steakhouse in his BMW and thanked the pages for their tenacity and leadership during the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. ''I am afraid if I was your age I may have run home. That speaks volumes about the people you are,'' Foley said.

In a June 7, 2001, speech, Republican representative John Shimkus of Illinois, the head of the page board, referred to Foley as someone ''who I know has a vested interest in taking time out to make sure he talks with you and visits with you and he gets to know you.... That is a personal trait that you should emulate. He has been successful, and I know it is from his heart.''

''I do take a special interest in each and every one of you,'' Foley said after taking the podium. ''You never know when you may run for president in the United States, so I may need some help in a lot of different districts,'' Foley said, adding that he was ''just kidding.''

He told the teens that ''you have had to take some kidding, some grilling, some jokes, and I will not get into it. You all know who have been the subject of my inquiry.... I did not know they made boots that size. How much hair gel have you used today, Robert? Ryan was the other one. I did not recognize that color hair when you left here on Friday. I will leave that name off. I did not know you wore an earring. Does your dad know, or mom? No, not really.''

In a June 3, 2004, speech, Foley told the graduates he hoped some would become ''teachers, police officers, firefighters, members of the military, nurses, veterans, whatever your chosen profession.... A few may go on to be congressmen, congresswomen, governors, senators. In fact, in this very room may be the future president of the United States.'' (AP)

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