House Panel Finds Lawmakers Did Not Break Rules in Foley Scandal

The committee issued its final report Friday on the scandal that rocked Congress in late September, finding that no member of Congress or staffer had violated any rules. The report did conclude that many people involved decided “to remain willfully ignorant of the potential consequences” of Foley’s actions.

The panel did not recommend sanctions against any member or aide, but did speculate on why some who may have known about Foley failed to act.

“Some may have been concerned that raising the issue too aggressively might have risked exposing Rep. Foley’s homosexuality,” the report reads. “There is some evidence that political considerations played a role in decisions that were made by persons in both parties.”

Foley, a Florida Republican, abruptly resigned on Sept. 29, 2006 as news of his inappropriate text messages to minors who were working as pages in the House first became public.

The conservative congressman entered a substance abuse treatment center immediately after resigning and may himself have been a victim of sexual abuse by a Catholic priest when he was a boy. He completed treatment for “behavioral problems” in November.

Foley refused to testify before the ethics panel but still faces a state and federal criminal investigation into his computer conversations with teenagers.

Outgoing House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., came under fire for his handling of the Foley situation when some members of Congress said they had informed his office of Foley’s actions.

Hastert has publicly said he doesn’t recall the conversations and said he would dismiss any member of his staff that had not acted on the warnings. But both Majority Leader John Boehner of Ohio and Rep. Tom Reynolds of New York have said they informed the speaker last spring.

The ethics committee appeared to back Reynolds and Boehner. “The speaker’s reported statement in response to Majority Leader Boehner that the matter ‘has been taken care of’ is some evidence that the speaker was aware of some concern regarding Rep. Foley’s conduct” even prior to the spring conversation, the report said.