Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Lawmaker calls for suspension of page program over Foley scandal

WASHINGTON — The House page scandal engulfing former Rep. Mark Foley and House Republican persists as Speaker Dennis Hastert works to hold onto his job and rank and file Republicans worry that the pre-election drip, drip of damaging political news isn't over yet.

The daily disclosures about Foley's salacious Internet exchanges with former teenage congressional pages has GOP lawmakers and conservative activists fearing the foibles of other politicians may be exposed. "People are very, very concerned," Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Ill., acknowledged Tuesday night.

Republicans are increasingly nervous about their November midterm election prospects and Hastert, R-Ill., is working to contain the fallout and retain his job as the scandal dominates the 24-hour news media and the Internet blogosphere.

"I'm not going to do that," Hastert said when asked Tuesday by conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh whether he would quit his post.

President Bush, speaking at a Stockton, Calif., elementary school on Tuesday, said he was disgusted by the Foley revelations and voiced support for Hastert.

"I know that he wants all the facts to come out," the president said.

LaHood said Wednesday he was standing by Hastert and predicted his fellow House Republicans would, too. It's not the speaker who should go, LaHood said, but the "antiquated" page system that brings 15- and 16-year-olds to the Capitol and has resulted in scandals in the past.

"Some members betray their trust by taking advantage of them. We should not subject young men and women to this kind of activity, this kind of vulnerability," LaHood said in a CNN interview. He said the program should be suspended, at least until its flaws can be corrected.

Conservatives debated whether Hastert should resign over his handling of the controversy.


No comments: