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Republican Party Contends with Foley E-mails, Resignation

Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., resigned Friday after reports revealed he had sent sexually explicit messages to male congressional pages. Following a report on the political fallout of Foley's resignation, political journalist Ben Pershing discusses its effects on the Republican Party.

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  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    There is now a criminal investigation into former Republican Congressman Mark Foley's sexually explicit electronic messages to former male congressional pages. Meanwhile, at the Capitol this afternoon, House Speaker Dennis Hastert emphatically denied that he or any other member of the leadership knew of the most explicit of those messages until ABC News reported them last week.

    REP. DENNIS HASTERT (R-ILL.), Speaker of the House: The Republican leaders of the House did not have them. We have all said so and on the record.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Those messages from 2003 contain references to sexual acts and body parts, and their release led to Foley's immediate resignation from Congress on Friday.

    Some Democrats believe GOP leaders may have had prior knowledge of the messages and covered up the matter to allow Foley to keep his seat through the midterm elections.

    REP. JOHN MURTHA (D), Pennsylvania: It really makes me nervous that they looked like they tried to cover it up.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    But Hastert insisted Republican leaders knew only of e-mails Foley sent in the fall of 2005 to a 16-year-old former page, sponsored by Louisiana's Rodney Alexander. That e-mail had been described by Alexander's office as "over-friendly."

    When the scandal broke late last week, Hastert said he hadn't heard of any e-mails, including that one.

  • REP. DENNIS HASTERT:

    None of us are very happy about it.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    But on Saturday, New York Republican Tom Reynolds said he had told Hastert about Foley's 2005 e-mail months ago, after being notified by Alexander. Said Reynolds, "I told the speaker of the conversation Mr. Alexander had with me."

    In response, Hastert's office acknowledged that some of his aides knew last year that Foley had been warned to cease contact with the boy.

    At the White House today, reporters peppered spokesman Tony Snow with questions about the matter, but Snow left it to Hastert to explain.

  • TONY SNOW, White House Press Secretary:

    As far as answering particular questions about who knew what, when, or what they knew, or how they're going to deal with that, I'll refer those questions to the speaker.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    But Hastert, along with Republican Congressman John Shimkus, who oversees the page program, took no questions and immediately left after making their statements.