Correction to This Article
An Oct. 2 article about inappropriate messages from Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) to former House pages incorrectly said that former page Patrick McDonald had seen sexually suggestive e-mails from Foley. McDonald was merely present when recipients of the messages discussed them.

FBI to Examine Foley's E-Mails

By Charles Babington and Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, October 2, 2006

The FBI announced last night that it is looking into whether former representative Mark Foley (R-Fla.) broke federal law by sending inappropriate e-mails and instant messages to teenage House pages.

The announcement came hours after House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert asked for a Justice Department investigation into not only Foley's actions but also Congress's handling of the matter once it learned of the contacts.

In his letter to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, Hastert (R-Ill.) acknowledged that some of Foley's most sexually explicit instant messages were sent to former House pages in 2003. That was two years before lawmakers say they learned of a more ambiguous 2005 e-mail that led only to a quiet warning to Foley to leave pages alone.

Foley, 52, abruptly resigned Friday, and Democrats have since been hammering Hastert and other GOP leaders. They have accused Republicans of covering up the matter and allowing Foley to remain as co-chair of the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus instead of launching an inquiry and possibly uncovering the raunchier communications.

As the scandal broke, Hastert contended he learned of concerns about Foley only last week. But after Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds (R-N.Y.) said Saturday that he had notified Hastert months ago of Foley's e-mails to a 16-year-old boy, the speaker did not dispute his colleague, and Hastert's office acknowledged that some aides knew last year that Foley had been ordered to cease contact with the youth.

Republican leaders continued to insist yesterday that it was understandable that the "over-friendly" Internet e-mails they had seen did not set off alarm bells. But one House GOP leadership aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing his job, conceded that Republicans had erred in not notifying the three-member, bipartisan panel that oversees the page system. Instead, they left it to the panel chairman, Rep. John M. Shimkus (R-Ill.), to confront Foley.

Also yesterday, a former House page said that at a 2003 page reunion, he saw sexually suggestive e-mails Foley had sent to another former page. Patrick McDonald, 21, now a senior at Ohio State University, said he eventually learned of "three or four" pages from his 2001-2002 class who were sent such messages.

He said he remembered saying at the reunion, "If this gets out, it will destroy him."

House officials have already removed Foley's nameplate from his Cannon Office Building door and shut down his House Web site, while in Florida, GOP leaders prepared to meet at an Orlando airport hotel today to select a replacement candidate for the November election.

Foley has said nothing since announcing his resignation. Yesterday, a statement purportedly sent by Foley to news organizations, including The Washington Post, said he has entered an alcohol-treatment facility in Florida. The Post could not confirm the statement's authenticity, and none of Foley's former aides has responded to messages since his resignation.

In his letter to Gonzales, Hastert said Foley's electronic messages crossed state lines, so "there should be a complete investigation and prosecution of any federal laws that have been violated."

FBI Special Agent Richard Kolko declined to elaborate on his announcement of the agency's investigation of Foley. A law enforcement official who requested anonymity so he could discuss an ongoing case said the probe will be handled by the FBI's Cyber Division, and could involve agents from the Washington or Miami field offices.

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