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Local Republicans sound off on page scandal

October 04, 2006|by TARA REILLY

U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito said she was appalled by former lawmaker Mark Foley's sexually explicit messages to underage male pages, calling his actions "despicable."

Capito, R-W.Va., is a member of the House Page Board.

"Mark Foley's disgraceful lies and repulsive behavior have stained this institution, but we must not let it harm the future of this great program for our nation's young people," Capito said in a written statement released Monday.

Foley, of Florida, resigned abruptly Friday over the sexually explicit e-mails and instant messages to young male pages, The Associated Press has reported.

Capito said she hopes "his actions be held accountable by the full weight of our justice system."

On Tuesday, the Democratic challenger for Capito's elected House seat called for the congresswoman's and U.S. Reps. John Shimkus' and Dale Kildee's resignations from the House Page Board.

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"This is an example of the incompetence that leads to situations like the one they are facing now," challenger Mike Callaghan said in a press release.

"How can parents feel safe about sending their children to participate in this storied program when no one is keeping a close watch on them?" Callaghan said. "The members of the House Page Board have shirked their duties and have failed the American people. That is why I am calling for the resignation of the House Page Board members."

Jordan Stoick, Capito's press secretary, in an e-mail response to The Herald-Mail, downplayed Callaghan's call that she resign from the board.

"The congresswoman is not interested in engaging in negative political ploys, especially when it involves the safety and security of the young people in the House Page Program," Stoick said Tuesday. "Right now, she is focused on improving the program to make it safer for pages and plans to continue doing so in the future."

Capito said she learned of the Foley situation Thursday through reports in the press. She said she regretted she wasn't made aware of the messages as a member of the Page Board.

"I am pleased that the Speaker has asked the Attorney General and Florida authorities to undertake a full investigation of this matter," Capito said. "This investigation should be immediate, thorough and broad in its scope to include anyone - including members of Congress and House of Representatives staff - who may have had any knowledge of Mr. Foley's activities."

U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett also commented on the Foley situation, but to a lesser extent than Capito.

"When confronted by these revelations last week, resignation (by Foley) was the only option," Bartlett, R-Md., said in a written statement. "The Speaker of the House did the right thing to request an immediate investigation and to take steps to protect the young people who come to Washington to work for our Congress as pages."

Bartlett's Press Secretary, Lisa Wright, would not comment beyond the written statement.

U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., did not send a response to The Herald-Mail as of 7 p.m. Tuesday.

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