Video: Scarborough on the Foley scandal

Image: Joe Scarborough
By Joe Scarborough Host, ‘Morning Joe'
updated 10/3/2006 12:05:13 PM ET 2006-10-03T16:05:13

I know Mark Foley. Mark Foley is a friend of mine. But in all my years working with him in Congress and on TV, I could have never foreseen the sleazy events that brought about his fall from power.

Mark and I entered Congress together in 1994 and spent the next four terms working together on legislation and political campaigns. Rumors about Mark’s homosexuality followed him from his first day on the Hill, and I even discussed the issue with him before he launched his Senate campaign in 2003. Though I had never broached the subject out of deference to him, I just wanted Mark to know it would come up and warn him that he had better have a response ready. I also told him not to be surprised if the White House stepped in with a candidate like Mel Martinez to drive him from the race. Mark guaranteed me his friends in the Bush administration would never do such a thing.

I don’t know if they did. Perhaps you can ask Sen. Mel Martinez the next time you see him.

Reading the first set of e-mails made me uneasy. My friends who knew Mark and I got on the phone and wondered aloud why he would ask a high school kid for a picture. Friday afternoon I saw the instant messages he sent to another student that made me scream. I realized Mark was in big trouble.

But he is not alone.

Where was the Republican leadership over the past year? They knew of Mark’s inappropriate e-mails to a former page but never informed Democratic leaders so they could warn those pages they had brought to Washington.

How could the Speaker of the House not remember being told by the Chairman of the Republican Congressional Committee that Foley had been confronted with his inappropriate emails to a male intern? Does this happen so often in Congress that it was no big deal to Denny Hastert?

Video: Foley sex scandal implications Why did Republicans allow Mark Foley to continue as chairman of the Committee on Missing and Exploited Children?

Why did they let him lead the charge on their bill to stop the exploitation of minors on the Internet?

And who was hiding these explosive instant messages over the past year?

Someone buried these IM’s despite the fact they allegedly showed a congressman trying to meet up to have sex with a teenage boy. The fact this person held on to them until one month before the election makes it obvious that the intent was to inflict maximum damage on Mark Foley and the Republican Party.

Why did this person (or people) withhold criminal evidence from the FBI?

Should they also be arrested for obstructing a federal investigation and preventing congressional leaders from taking steps to protect other high school pages?

Regarding political maneuvering, I would suggest that Democrats remember Napoleon’s advice that one should never interfere when your enemy is destroying himself. Dems should keep quiet so not to open themselves up to charges of hypocrisy. After all, their party did little when one of their colleagues had a homosexual affair with a 17 year old intern—engaging in sex with the teen in his Georgetown apartment and then taking him to Portugal to carry on the illicit affair. The disgraced representative remained in Congress for another decade and was never stripped of anything other than his clothes by the teenage boy.

Maybe we will find out that Mark Foley also had sex with teenage boys.

But for now, Foley’s e-mails and IM’s are disgusting enough. And even though there is enough sleaze to fill buckets on both sides of the political aisle, it is the Republican Party of Foley, Abramoff, Cunningham, Ney and DeLay that will be on the ballot next month. That is bad news for Mark Foley’s party and bad news for the President, who can ill afford to lose the House or Senate this fall.

Read Scarborough's first draft of this commentary.

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