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Report on pages won't be done before elections

Published November 3, 2006


WASHINGTON - The House ethics committee has been working to determine if Republican leaders covered up former Rep. Mark Foley's come-ons to former male pages, but even 12-hour work days won't bring conclusions by Election Day.

Foley became overly friendly with male pages when they served as errand-runners for lawmakers and - after they left Congress - sent some of them inappropriate e-mails and lurid instant messages.

Speaker Dennis Hastert's staff could have learned of inappropriate e-mails as early as 2002 and as late as 2005, depending on whose statements voters believe. The instant messages didn't surface until a month ago. Two House leaders say they told Hastert about Foley's e-mails last spring, but the speaker said he didn't learn of them until September.

A four-member investigative subcommittee interviewed two dozen witnesses in closed sessions. Witnesses were still being questioned this week, leaving no time for the panel to digest hours of interviews and write a report by Election Day.

Foley, R-Fla., who is in an alcohol treatment program, resigned in September after he was confronted about the messages.

Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, said the timing of the scandal may have lessened the impact for Republicans. "There has been some hangover. But, as expected, a month later it wasn't going to be that dominant."

[Last modified November 3, 2006, 02:07:48]

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