Foley flap comes to Minnesota

DFL Party Chair Brian Melendez calls on GOP Congressman Mark Kennedy (who’s running for the U.S. Senate) to return money from former Florida Congressman Mark Foley. Foley resigned on Friday. You can read about the flap here. Foley’s Political Action Committee (Florida Republican Leadership PAC) gave Kennedy $3,000 in 2002.

Here’s a snippet of the DFL release:

KENNEDY MUST RETURN FOLEY’S MONEY AND SUPPORT AN INVESTIGATION

ST. PAUL (10/2/06) – After several days of scandal surrounding a congressional colleague, Rep. Mark Kennedy has yet to stand up and call for a criminal investigation into the facts surrounding former Representative Mark Foley’s interactions with teenage House pages. And he has yet to return the $3,000 given to him by Foley’s PAC.

“In 2002, Mark Foley’s PAC gave more money to Mark Kennedy than to any other politician in the country,” said Minnesota DFL Chair Brian Melendez. “Kennedy should reject this tainted money and donate it to an appropriate charity — preferably one that helps exploited children. And he should immediately support a criminal investigation into his colleagues’ heinous breach of trust with the American public.”

Melendez is also calling on the National Republican Congressional Committee to return any money it took from Foley’s PAC. A spokesman for the NRCC says they will keep the $550,000 they received from Foley since 1996.

Kennedy campaign spokeswoman was unavailable to comment on what Kennedy would do with the money. . Kennedy campaign spokeswoman Heidi Frederickson issued this response to Melendez:

“We have already begun preparations to donate to charity the money given by ex-Rep. Foley’s PAC back in 2001-2002.”

“But let me suggest that the MN DFL Party, by trying to score political points off of the scandalous, and possibly criminal, behavior of former-Congressman Mark Foley, shows that they just don’t get it. Ex-Rep. Foley is being investigated by the House Ethics Committee and by the FBI.”

“The DFL’s behavior is all the more egregious when you consider that the DFL still hasn’t given away the money it received from Jack Abramoff’s clients, nor has the DFL party asked Amy Klobuchar about her role in the theft of a Kennedy campaign ad, nor has the DFL answered questions about its own role in the matter.”

“Until Democrats takes ethics and integrity seriously, rather than trying to use them as political weapons, voters will never trust them with control of government.”

I asked Kennedy about the Foley incident before DFL release was sent. He said he’s happy House Speaker Dennis Hastert called for an FBI investigation into Foley:

“As a parent, I’m disgusted by what I hear. I’m pleased that Speaker Hastert has asked the FBI to do a criminal investigation including the question of what people knew, when they knew it and what actions they took. There’s no question that this is behavior that is not acceptable by anybody and certainly not a member of Congress.”

DFLer Patty Wetterling, a child safety advocate and candidate for Congress, says she knew Foley when he served as a member of the Congressional Missing and Exploited Chidren’s Caucus. Wetterling says any member of Congress who knew that Foley was e-mailing the pages should resign:

“I believe every person in America should be a mandatory reporter when you see some child that’s being victimized. It is our job as adults to stand up for that child. And in this case sitting members of Congress knew for a long time.”

Wetterling is running for Congress in Minnesota’s Sixth District against Republican Michele Bachmann and Independence Party member John Binkowski.

  • Bill Prendergast

    From Reuters:

    “House Republicans grapple with sex scandal

    By John Whitesides, Political Correspondent 57 minutes ago

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) –

    Former Republican Rep. Mark Foley (news, bio, voting record), under

    FBI investigation for sending sexually explicit Internet messages to underage male congressional pages, reportedly checked into an alcohol rehabilitation facility over the weekend after resigning from Congress on Friday.

    House Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois, responding to questions about what and when Republican leaders learned about the scandal, strongly denied knowing the explicit sexual nature of Foley’s messages until they surfaced on Friday.

    “No one in the Republican leadership … saw those messages until last Friday when ABC News released them to the public,” Hastert told reporters at the Capitol.

    Hastert and other top House Republicans said over the weekend they knew of e-mail traffic between Foley and a 16-year-old boy, which was described to them as “over-friendly,” but were not made aware of the explicit nature of messages sent to other pages.”

    I guess the issue here is—Do we trust Speaker Hastert and the GOP leadership to tell the truth about what they knew, and when they knew it?

    I don’t know how other voters will answer that question. We are all aware of the current GOP leaderships’ reputation for integrity and probity.

    Personally, I really wish that I had gone to that Hastert fundraiser for Bachmann and paid five hundred bucks for a picture of them shaking hands.