Foley Says He's In Treatment For Alcoholism - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News


Foley Says He's In Treatment For Alcoholism

Rep. Mark Foley, right, appears with John Walsh in 2005 to push tougher sex-offender laws. Rep. Mark Foley, right, appears with John Walsh in 2005 to push tougher sex-offender laws.
allegations that he sent inappropriate e-mails to teenage pages, told a Florida television station that he is in a treatment facility for alcoholism.

A letter containing the information was faxed by Foley to WPBF in West Palm Beach, said David Roth, Foley's attorney.

The fax was apparently sent from Clearwater, Florida, but Roth would not say Monday if that's where Foley is being treated.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said Monday it was launching an investigation into allegations Foley sent sexually suggestive e-mails to pages.

FDLE spokesman Tom Berlinger said that the agency on Sunday contacted the FBI -- which is looking into whether any federal laws were broken in the matter -- to inform federal authorities of the Florida probe.

The state agency will be trying to determine whether any of Foley's alleged communications originated in Florida.

The Justice Department, at the request of House Speaker Dennis Hastert, also is considering an investigation of how lawmakers handled the allegations against Foley.

The rare move by Hastert followed calls by Democratic leaders in the House and Senate for a swift inquiry, questioning whether the GOP leadership in the House had improperly squelched concerns about Foley's contacts with pages.

The Florida Republican resigned Friday amid scrutiny of his e-mail and instant-message contacts with pages.

Foley, a six-term Florida congressman, was co-chairman of the Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus and a prominent backer of legislation to crack down on online predators and criminalize child pornography on the Internet.

The House voted to launch an investigation of his dealings with pages. But in a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Hastert urged the Justice Department to look into who knew about the content of any sexually explicit messages involving Foley "and what actions such individuals took, if any, to provide them to law enforcement."

Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said the department will review "whether we can conduct an investigation."

Hastert, an Illinois Republican, also asked the Justice Department and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to investigate whether the former lawmaker violated federal or state law.

Earlier Sunday, White House Counselor Dan Bartlett said he expected a criminal investigation. The administration was unaware of the Foley allegations until last week, he said.

Top House Republicans have said they were aware months ago of e-mail contact between Foley and a teenage male page, but that they had no knowledge of sexually explicit messages that have subsequently come to light.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said House Republican leaders knew of the Foley allegations and "chose to cover it up rather than to protect these children."

In a letter to the leaders of the Ethics Committee, the California Democrat said that GOP leaders should be questioned under oath immediately and that a preliminary report should be issued within 10 days.

After Hastert's request for an investigation, she said the Ethics Committee still needs to look into the actions of the GOP leadership. "Congress must not pass the buck on investigating this cover-up," she said.

Too graphic to report

In a brief resignation statement, Foley apologized to his own family and constituents but did not mention the allegations. He has made no public comment since his resignation.

After the e-mails were publicized, ABC News released instant text messages allegedly sent by the congressman to other teenage male pages in 2003.

The chamber's three top Republicans -- Hastert, Majority Leader John Boehner of Ohio and Majority Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri -- said in a joint statement Saturday that Foley's "improper communications" were "unacceptable and abhorrent."

The scandal comes just weeks before the November 7 midterm elections. Republicans are hurriedly trying to find someone to replace Foley.

Foley had been favored to defeat Democratic candidate Tim Mahoney and win re-election to a seventh term.

"The Republican leadership knew this was going on, and they had to make a choice," Mahoney said. "They decided to try to hold on to a seat."

Reynolds informed Hastert

Rep. Tom Reynolds, R-New York, said during the weekend that he told Hastert about the initial complaint -- that Foley had been e-mailing a 16-year-old Louisiana boy who had served as a page, asking for a picture of the teen and asking what he wanted for his birthday.

Reynolds chairs the National Republican Congressional Committee, which is the election campaign arm for House Republicans.

Reynolds said that when Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-Louisiana, told him about the e-mails, he said the teen's parents didn't want the matter pursued. Alexander was the boy's sponsor.

After an initial denial, Hastert's office said Reynolds brought up the issue of the e-mails in a meeting with the speaker earlier this year.

Reynolds told Hastert in that meeting that an investigation had been done by Rep. John Shimkus and the clerk of the House, who manages the work-study program for youths under 18. Shimkus is an Illinois Republican and chairman of the House Page Board.

Rep. Dale Kildee, the only Democratic member of the House Page Board, insisted Saturday the board did not investigate Foley.

Boehner learned about allegations against Foley from Alexander in the spring, said Kevin Madden, the majority leader's spokesman.

Shimkus said Foley told him he was only mentoring the teen in the first complaint and was concerned about his fate after Hurricane Katrina.

Shimkus said he warned Foley "to cease all contact with this former House page" -- and he said Foley assured him the e-mails would stop.

Approximately 100 youths age 16 and older serve as congressional pages at any one time. Both boys and girls may serve, usually for a semester or two or a summer session, according to congressional documents.

CNN's Ted Barrett contributed to this report.

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