In all the media fuss about whether the GOP House leadership knew about former representative Mark Foley's behavior, hardly anyone in the press seems interested in whether Democrats knew about the story and declined to expose Foley's conduct, thus "putting at risk" the congressional pages in the way we constantly hear that Speaker Hastert and others did.
Turns out, Democrats did know about Foley's antics. According to Ken Silverstein, a writer for the liberal Harper's magazine, he was approached with the story way back in the month of May--by a Democrat.
House Majority Leader John Boehner has charged that the release of the Foley documents so close to the elections “is concerning, at a minimum.” Meanwhile, accounts I've heard about the FBI's initial inquiries suggest the bureau is as interested in uncovering how the story came to public attention as it is in investigating Foley's actions.
The Republican leadership is lying when they claim that Democrats have engineered an “October Surprise”; there was never a plan undermine the G.O.P. or to destroy Hastert personally, as the speaker has vaingloriously suggested. I know this with absolute certainty because Harper’s was offered the story almost five months ago and decided, after much debate, not to run it here on Washington Babylon.
In May, a source put me in touch with a Democratic operative who provided me with the now-infamous emails that Foley had sent in 2004 to a sixteen-year-old page. He also provided several emails that the page sent to the office of Congressman Rodney Alexander, a Louisiana Republican who had sponsored him when he worked on Capitol Hill. “Maybe it is just me being paranoid, but seriously, This freaked me out,” the page wrote in one email. In the fall of 2005, my source had provided the same material to the St. Petersburg Times—and I presume to The Miami Herald—both which decided against publishing stories.
It was a Democrat who brought me the emails, but comments he made and common sense strongly suggest they were originally leaked by a Republican office. And while it's entirely possible that Democratic officials became aware of the accusations against Foley, the source was not working in concert with the national Democratic Party. This person was genuinely disgusted by Foley's behavior, amazed that other publications had declined to publish stories about the emails, and concerned that Foley might still be seeking contact with pages.
Despite Silverstein's attempt to spin things leftward, the fact remains: Democrats knew about Mark Foley and his affinity for congressional pages. Don't look for it to be reported on tonight's news, though.