The House of
Representatives page program supervisor was questioned
Wednesday as internal investigators undertook closed-door
interviews on the handling of ex-congressman Mark
Foley's inappropriate relationships with male pages.
Peggy Sampson supervises the unique program, which
allows high schoolers to attend classes in the congressional
page school and also work for lawmakers as assistants.
Pages are sponsored by members of Congress.
Foley sent e-mails and instant messages, some of
them sexually explicit, to male pages after they left
the program. A four-member investigative panel of the
evenly divided ethics panel is sorting out conflicts,
including whether Speaker Dennis Hastert's office learned of
the Florida Republican's inappropriate conduct in
2002, 2003, or 2005. All those years were mentioned,
depending on who is telling the story.
Kirk Fordham, Foley's one-time chief of staff,
is scheduled for questioning Thursday before a House
Ethics Committee investigative panel. He said he
notified Hastert chief of staff Scott Palmer in 2002 or 2003
about Foley's inappropriate conduct, and that he
subsequently learned that Palmer met with Foley.
An internal review released by Hastert's office
on September 30 says the first notice to Hastert's
aides about Foley wasn't until the fall of 2005 and
that it didn't come from Fordham. Rather, the review said,
it came from the office of Republican
congressman Rodney Alexander of Louisiana, after
the lawmaker learned of an overly friendly--but not
sexually explicit--e-mail from Foley to a page from
Palmer has publicly disputed Fordham's account.
It was not clear when the ethics committee will
The contradiction between the staff aides is
almost outdone by Hastert's conflicts with statements
by two members of his leadership team: Majority Leader
John Boehner, of Ohio, and the House Republican campaign
chairman, Rep. Tom Reynolds of New York. Longtime
conservative leader Paul Weyrich said Tuesday that
Hastert had assured him that Boehner was wrong when he
said that he had told Hastert months ago about the page
problem with Foley.
''As to Congressman Thomas M. Reynolds, the
speaker said, 'If he had mentioned this problem to me,
I surely would have taken notice,' '' Weyrich said in
an e-mailed account of a phone conversation with Hastert.
Weyrich quoted Hastert as saying that Reynolds
often came to him with numerous requests to help
incumbents in trouble. ''The speaker said he signs off
on the majority of requests and only listens with one ear
because the requests are repetitive,'' Weyrich said.
''Did Reynolds during such a session drop the
bombshell about Foley in the speaker's lap without the
speaker's comprehending what was being told to him?
'That is possible but unlikely,' the speaker said. In any
case, he has absolutely no recollection,'' Weyrich said.
Boehner's spokesman, Kevin Madden, said slightly
different accounts were not surprising because the
events took place four months ago. A spokesman for
Hastert had no comment. A Reynolds spokesman, L.D. Platt,
said Hastert had already said he didn't recall the conversation.
The FBI, in an effort to determine whether
any crimes were committed, on Tuesday questioned a
former page in Oklahoma City who had received
salacious messages from Foley. Former page Jordan Edmund and
his attorney, Stephen Jones, met with agents for 2-1/2 hours.
Retiring congressman Jim Kolbe of Arizona, the
only openly gay Republican House member, pushed the
time line on Foley's e-mails back to possibly 2001,
the earliest year in the timetable. Recounting his actions,
Kolbe said a former page contacted his office to
report receiving e-mails from Foley that made him uncomfortable.
''I was not shown the content of the messages
and was not told they were sexually explicit. It was
my recommendation that this complaint be passed along
to Representative Foley's office and the clerk who
supervised the page program. This was done promptly,''
Asked about Kolbe's statement, Hastert told
reporters in Aurora, Ill.: ''I don't know anything
more about it. If there's something that was of a
nature that should have been reported or brought forward,
then he should have done that.''
Kolbe said he passed along the complaint to
then-clerk of the House Jeff Trandahl but did
not take the matter to other lawmakers. Trandahl's
lawyer, Cono Namorato, said in a statement that Trandahl
will cooperate with the FBI and the House Ethics
Hastert says he learned of Foley's conduct
toward pages only on September 29, when the Florida
lawmaker abruptly resigned after being confronted by
ABC News with copies of lurid instant messages he had sent
to a former page. (Larry Margasak, AP)