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House investigators question former Foley chief of staff

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published October 13, 2006


WASHINGTON - Former Rep. Mark Foley's one-time aide, speaking to the House ethics committee, testified Thursday that he told the speaker's chief of staff about Foley's approaches to male pages at least three years ago, the witness' lawyer said.

Kirk Fordham would not comment after emerging from nearly five hours of closed-door testimony, but his lawyer, Timothy Heaphy, said Fordham was "consistent in his accounts." Fordham has spoken publicly on his timeline and was questioned by the FBI.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert has said that he learned of the inappropriate conduct by Foley in late September and that his aides found out in the fall of 2005.

The speaker's chief of staff, Scott Palmer, has denied that Fordham contacted him at least three years ago, contradicting Fordham and creating one of the major conflicts the committee will have to resolve.

Heaphy told reporters Fordham was "forthcoming" in his testimony. "He's been truthful and cooperative and will continue to be throughout this and other investigations."

Heaphy said Fordham has been asked not to comment on the substance of the inquiry because of the ongoing investigation.

Foley resigned from Congress Sept. 29, after being confronted about sexually explicit instant messages.

Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., scheduled to appear before the ethics panel today, has said he confronted Foley last fall, after he was told by Hastert's office of an overly friendly - but not sexually explicit - e-mail to a page from Louisiana.

Shimkus is chairman of the House Page Board, a group of three lawmakers and two House officers who set policy for the program that brings teenagers to Congress to attend school and perform errands in the chamber during sessions.