Controversial Alabama judge and U.S. Senate hopeful Roy Moore would pose a threat to the teenagers who work as pages in the Senate if he is elected, a congresswoman said.
The unusual warning about a potential incoming senator was revealed Monday in a letter sent Friday by Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) to the administrative body that runs the Senate, the office of the Sergeant at Arms and Doorkeeper, on the eve of Alabama’s special election.
The Wisconsin lawmaker said she was concerned about Moore’s potential interactions with the high school juniors who make up the Senate’s pages, and asked whether the office was preparing for his possible election.
“I write you today to share my urgent concern regarding the threat to the safety of the young men and women working in the United States Senate Page Program if Roy Moore becomes the U.S. Senator,” Gwen Moore wrote. “I would like to know what preventative steps are being undertaken to safeguard Senate Pages from predatory conduct of U.S. Senators and Senate staff.”
Pages assist with low-level tasks such as bringing water, delivering documents and helping out in the cloakroom.
The Wisconsin Democrat did not spell out what steps she’d like the administrators of the page program to take. Eric Harris, a spokesman for Moore, said the congresswoman’s office has not received a response. Moore wanted to hear back from the Sergeant at Arms before she makes any recommendations, he said.
When asked about the letter’s timing — a few days before the Alabama special election, rather than after, in the event that Roy Moore wins — Harris said that the office could not wait to take action.
“The congresswoman believes that prevention, rather than intervention, is the most effective way to approach this issue,” Harris said in an email.
Alabama’s election on Tuesday has become the subject of a wider national debate after The Washington Post reported last month the accounts of five women who said that Moore pursued them when they were teenagers and he was an assistant district attorney in his 30s. One of the women, Leigh Corfman, said Moore touched her sexually when she was 14. Moore has repeatedly denied the accounts of the women in recent weeks.
Four more women have come forward to allege that Moore made unwanted sexual advances. Congress has been grappling with allegations of sexual misconduct by its members amid a national discussion about the treatment of women in the workplace. Moore’s candidacy has split his party, with some Republicans saying that he would face an ethics investigation if elected. But the Republican National Committee and others such as President Trump, who faces calls for an investigation concerning accusations of sexual misconduct made against him, have lined up to support Moore.
The rules stipulate that pages must be at least 16 years old. The program dates to 1829; women were allowed into the program beginning in 1971.
The program has been at the center of controversy before: The page program in the House, which was canceled in 2011 after the body’s leaders said it was made largely obsolete by email and other technological advances, was rocked by two sex scandals.
Reps. Gerry E. Studds (D-Mass.) and Daniel B. Crane (R-Ill.) were censured for having sex with 17-year-old pages in separate incidents in the early 1980s and in 2006. Mark Foley resigned after it was revealed that he had sent explicit emails and messages to current and former male House pages. Leaders vowed to improve the program’s oversight at the time.
Gwen Moore cited the Foley scandal in her letter.
“We need to be vigilant stewards of these children going forward,” she wrote.