2 Republicans Resign From House Page Board
Friday, December 7, 2007
Two Republican House members resigned yesterday from the board supervising teenage pages, accusing a Democratic official of not informing them about sexual and criminal activity by at least four youngsters.
The board's Democratic chairman supported the Republicans, blaming House Clerk Lorraine Miller -- the day-to-day administrator of the program -- for not immediately notifying Page Board members of all the inappropriate conduct.
Miller, appointed by the House Democratic leadership, said she followed a zero-tolerance policy toward the teenagers, who were expelled and sent home. But she did not directly respond to the accusation that she was lax in informing the board.
The resignations by Reps. Ginny Brown-Waite of Florida and Shelly Moore Capito of West Virginia echoed the supervision problems that came to light a year ago when Republicans were in charge.
At that time, board members said they were not informed of sexual come-ons to former male pages by Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.). Foley resigned his seat in September 2006, and the scandal helped cost Republicans control of the House.
Pages are high school students who run errands for lawmakers and learn about Congress while attending high school classes at a congressional school.
In January, the House voted 416 to 0 to expand the Page Board and equalize its political makeup. Angry lawmakers complained at the time that Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), then chairman of the Page Board, did not convene the board when he learned -- in the fall of 2005 -- that Foley had sent overly friendly e-mails to a former page.
Brown-Waite wrote in a scathing letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that Pelosi "learned nothing" from the Foley scandal.
The Florida congresswoman said four pages have been dismissed this year "for serious criminal acts and for inappropriate sexual indiscretions." A House Republican official said the criminal activity involved shoplifting. The official could not be quoted by name because he was not authorized to comment on the issue.
Besides blaming Pelosi, Brown-Waite said Miller, the House clerk, was "slow to share information with members of the board."
"In at least one vitally important incident, we were intentionally kept in the dark about dismissals for more than a week, and were only given the details after personally confronting the clerk with rumors we had heard," Brown-Waite wrote.