Friday, October 06, 2006

Inquiry To Look At House, Not Foley

The House ethics committee launched a wide-ranging investigation into Congress's handling of information about a Florida lawmaker and teenage pages yesterday, as Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) vowed to keep his job, saying, "I haven't done anything wrong."

The ethics panel approved nearly four dozen subpoenas for documents and testimony from House members, officers and aides. Its leaders said they plan to complete the inquiry in a matter of weeks, but not necessarily before the Nov. 7 congressional elections.

"Our investigation will go wherever the evidence leads us," Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) told reporters at the Capitol. The committee is evenly divided between the two parties, and Hastings and Rep. Howard L. Berman (Calif.), the top Democrat, promised to conduct an impartial investigation into the House's handling of warnings about the conduct of then-Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.).

The committee's inquiry will proceed in tandem with investigations by the FBI and Florida officials. Unlike those agencies, the ethics committee has no jurisdiction over Foley, who resigned last week as ABC News was publishing sexually graphic electronic messages between him and teenage former congressional pages. Hastings said his committee will focus on the "conduct of House members, officers and staff related to information concerning improper conduct involving members and current and former pages."


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