Filan on Foley: Who knew what and when?
Were the House's failures illegal as well as immoral?
The startling revelation that Congressman Kolbe knew about former Congressman Foley's x-rated internet exchanges as far back as 2000 simply confirms what I have suspected all along: Foley's proclivities were no secret in Washington, D.C.
Two questions must be answered: First, did Foley commit any crimes, and second, who knew what and when? A full investigation into Foley's conduct must be launched.
While Foley's Internet exchanges may not be a crime in and of themselves, it remains to be seen what other crimes, if any, he did commit. Clearly the age disparity between Foley and the pages calls into question the legality of their contact. The legal age of consent in Washington, D.C. is 16. If the page was 16 and over, and was in Washington, D.C., and was consenting, then Foley may not have committed any crime. If all the page did with Foley was chat online, there may be no crime. Even if there was sexual contact, there may be no crime. But what else did Foley do, with whom, and when, and where? The age of consent varies from state to state, and ranges from 16 to 18. If Foley had sexual contact with a page under the age of 18, in a state where the age of consent is 18, Foley may have committed a crime. We can expect that more pages are going to come forward, and we can expect the investigation to seek out all former pages. The bottom line is we need to know. Based on the Internet exchanges, I think probable cause exists to search Foley's computers to see if there is evidence of criminal activity.
I also want to know what else is on Foley's computer. Foley says he is not a pedophile. Typically, pedophiles are attracted to children under thirteen, but some are attracted to teens. Very often older men who are attracted to younger boys and teens possess child pornography, which is a crime.
Authorities need to have access to all of Foley's computers, including both his House and his personal computers. Nothing has been subpoenaed yet, thus nothing needs to be preserved, and Foley could be purging everything as I write this. While he has stated that he intends to fully cooperate with the investigation, including preserving his computers, we all know five minutes with a good defense lawyer will nix that sentiment.
The defense could raise a doctrine known as the "Speech or Debate Clause" (Article I, Section 6, Clause 1) of the U.S. Constitution in order to defeat any attempt to search Foley's computers. This clause says that :
"…shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony, and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their attendance at the Session of their Respective Houses, and in going to and from the same, and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place."
The reason for this clause is to prevent a president, or any other official of the executive branch, from arresting a member on a pretext to prevent them from voting a certain way.
The exception to this clause is the commission of a felony, and if Foley committed a felony, then this clause does not apply to him. The problem is that we don't know whether he committed a felony or not until we search and seize his computers and launch the investigation. If the Speech and Debate Clause successfully shields Foley from investigation, and I don't think it does, then he will have hidden his predatory behavior in the House, the very House that belongs to the people Foley was sent to govern and safeguard. It is ironic that in this very House, Foley worked on legislation designed to safeguard children from online sexual predators. Foley was like the fox guarding the chicken coop.
We also need to know who knew what and when. While Foley's conduct may or may not rise to the level of criminal conduct, based on what we know now, it appears that it was inappropriate. And while immoral and inappropriate are not always illegal, knowing about wrongdoing and covering it up, or doing nothing to prevent it, is both immoral and inappropriate. We need to find out if the House's failure to protect the pages from the seemingly predatory actions of one of its members is also illegal.
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