A former House
clerk Thursday joined the parade of Capitol Hill figures
questioned by House Ethics Committee members trying to
understand the circumstances behind ex-congressman
Mark Foley's computer messages to teenage male pages.
Former House clerk Jeff Trandahl, who is gay, did not
answer reporters' questions as he left the panel's offices
after several hours of testimony.
was central to the case, though, since he shouldered
day-to-day responsibility for the page program and had
confronted Foley last fall about inappropriate
e-mails. ''Jeff Trandahl has cooperated fully with the
investigation being conducted by the FBI and
the...Committee on Standards. He answered every question
asked of him, and stands ready to render additional
assistance if needed,'' Trandahl's attorney, Como
Namorato, said in a statement.
that Trandahl would not comment while the investigation is
At issue in the
Ethics Committee investigation is how the office of House
speaker Dennis Hastert dealt with the knowledge that Foley,
a Florida Republican, was sending inappropriate
e-mails to teenage congressional pages. The answers
could affect not just Hastert but the prospects for
control of the House when voters cast ballots in the
November 7 midterm election.
In an internal
report released by Hastert, his aides contend that they
first learned about Foley's conduct in the fall of 2005,
when they became aware of overly friendly e-mails to a
former Louisiana page. However, Foley's former top
aide said he told Hastert's chief of staff about
Foley's conduct in 2002 or 2003.
leader John Boehner, who also was to testify Thursday,
told a Cincinnati radio station earlier this month that when
he approached Hastert about Foley last spring, the
speaker told him that ''it had been taken care of.''
showing the Foley scandal could hurt Republicans in the
November 7 midterm election, Trandahl's testimony could be
damaging if he contradicts Hastert's account and says
Republican leaders lacked the urgency required to
protect the teenage pages. Hastert has fended off
calls for his resignation and said he believes he and his
staff acted properly.
Trandahl was the
official who likely would have known about any problems
involving the page program, including improper conduct by
pages or improper approaches from lawmakers or House
employees. He supervised the program and was on its
controlling group, the House Page Board, which
consists of three lawmakers, the House clerk, and the
sergeant at arms.
his seat September 29 after he was confronted with
sexually explicit instant messages he sent former male
pages, messages far more damaging than those sent the
Louisiana page. In that case, Foley asked what the
16-year-old wanted for his birthday and requested a
Foley, 52, has
said through his attorney that he is alcoholic, gay, and
had been molested as a boy by a ''clergyman.''
At the Capitol,
House Republican caucus chairman Deborah Pryce asked the
House clerk to investigate what she described as rumors that
Foley, while intoxicated, had once tried to enter the
page residence hall but was stopped by Capitol police.
Trandahl is known
to have confronted Foley at least once. The chairman of
the Page Board, Republican congressman John Shimkus of
Illinois, has publicly said he and Trandahl spoke with
Foley in the fall of 2005 after learning--from
Hastert's aides--about the e-mails to the former
Louisiana page. The boy's parents wanted the contact
ended, and Foley promised to comply, Shimkus said.
Hastert has said
he didn't learn about Foley in 2005 and didn't know
about the problems until the scandal broke late last month.
However, two other Republican leaders said that they
told Hastert months earlier.
statements conflict with those of Kirk Fordham, Foley's gay
former chief of staff, who said he told Hastert chief of
staff Scott Palmer about Foley in 2002 or 2003. Palmer
disputed Fordham's version of events. Hastert has told
reporters that if he learns that anyone on his staff
covered up information, they will be fired.
knew about a Foley incident with a page as early as 2001,
according to Republican congressman Jim Kolbe of
Arizona. Kolbe said a former page he had
sponsored contacted his office to complain of e-mails
from Foley and that he ''passed along'' the complaint to the
offices of both Foley and Trandahl.
Hastert and his
aides, including Palmer, have not yet given their
accounts to the Ethics Committee. (AP)