WASHINGTON – U.S. Capitol Police said Friday that they have no record of an alleged incident in which then-Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., supposedly tried to enter a Capitol Hill dormitory for teenage pages.
The purported nighttime incident has been cited by lawmakers and a key witness in the scandal that involves Foley’s interactions with congressional pages and the House’s handling of the matter. Unlike sexually graphic electronic messages that Foley sent to teenage boys, evidence of the alleged dorm incident has proved elusive.
On Friday, acting Capitol Police Chief Christopher McGaffin said his staff conducted electronic and hand searches of files covering several years but found no record of the alleged incident in which a drunken Foley supposedly was detained outside the pages’ dorm in 2003 or earlier.
The absence of a police report adds uncertainty to investigations by the FBI and the House ethics committee into furtive behavior that led to Foley’s abrupt resignation two weeks ago. A central question for the bipartisan ethics committee is whether House GOP leaders and others had early warnings of Foley’s objectionable behavior that should have prompted inquiries among current and former pages. House leaders might cite the lack of a police report as an indication that the dorm incident never happened or that it was kept so quiet that they had no way of knowing about it.
The FBI is investigating whether Foley committed a crime.
Meanwhile Friday, the chairman of the small group that oversees the House page program testified for more than three hours before the four-member ethics subcommittee conducting the inquiry. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., head of the Page Board, later told reporters that he “answered their questions honestly and forthrightly.”
In hindsight, he said, “a lot of things would have been done different.”
But by dealing with Foley quietly in late 2005, Shimkus said, he honored the wishes of the parents of a Louisiana boy whose e-mail exchanges with Foley triggered the eventual exposure of far more sexually explicit messages with other youths.
Shimkus, a longtime ally of Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said it was his decision to have only one other member of the Page Board – then-Clerk Jeff Trandahl – join him in confronting Foley last November about the Louisiana e-mails. Two other board members – Reps. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Dale Kildee, D-Mich. – have said they should have been alerted and allowed to help decide how to deal with Foley.