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Teenage congressional page 'freaked out' by e-mail exchange with Rep. Foley

Congressman Mark Foley Accused of Sending 'Sick' E-mails to 16 Year Old Boy

South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Stuart News
The Raw Story

South Florida Sun-Sentinel
By Joel Hood
September 29, 2006

U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fort Pierce, has come under fire for the appropriateness of e-mails exchanged with a 16-year-old congressional page.

In a series of e-mails between the six-term incumbent and the page last year, Foley asks about the teenager's schooling, an upcoming birthday and requests a picture.

' ... did you have fun at your conference ... what do you want for your birthday coming up ... what stuff do you like to do,' Foley wrote in one e-mail obtained by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Another read: ' ... are you safe ... send me a pic of you as well ... '

ABCNews.com reported Thursday that the 16-year-old page became uncomfortable with the dialog and forwarded the e-mails to an associate on Capitol Hill. In an excerpt reported on ABCNews.com, the page wrote: 'Maybe it is just me being paranoid, but seriously. This freaked me out.'

As of late Thursday, the of the U.S. House of Representatives had received no formal complaint against Foley, a spokeswoman said.

'This is the first we've heard of it,' said Salley Collins, spokeswoman for the clerk.

Foley is seeking re-election in November. His campaign staff acknowledged the Congressman sent the e-mails but said they were misconstrued. Campaign spokesman Jason Kello blamed Foley's District 16 opponent, Palm Beach Gardens businessman Tim Mahoney, for leaking the e-mails.

'The e-mails were written in response to a thank-you letter given to Congressman Foley from a former page,' Kello wrote in a statement. 'This is nothing more than a political attack and an attempt at the worst kind of character assassination.'

Mahoney's campaign staff denied leaking the e-mails. They released a statement of their own: 'The seriousness of these allegations goes far beyond the tit for tat of a political campaign. This is a matter for the appropriate authorities to investigate. I believe Mr. Foley deserves the benefit of the doubt until these allegations are proven to be true or false.'

Mahoney, a Democrat running his first political campaign, earlier this month filed a defamation lawsuit against the Foley campaign for what he described as misleading television ads. A week later, Mahoney hosted a news conference in West Palm Beach to accuse Foley of improperly receiving homestead exemptions in both Florida and Washington, D.C. Foley denied the claim.

Foley's camp said the e-mails were yet another political stunt.

'There have not been any allegations made by anyone except by Tim Mahoney and the Democrats who are attempting to misrepresent a series of innocent communications to prop up a failing political campaign,' the statement said.

Foley, a Lake Worth native, has been one of the most outspoken supporters in the U.S. House of Representatives for restricting rights for convicted sex offenders. In July, he was a primary sponsor of a bill designed to better track sexual predators and toughen penalties for those who use the Internet to lure young victims.

By midday Thursday, the Foley story was the lead on ABCNews.com and was reported by numerous Web sites. Copies of Foley's e-mails also were available online, where several discussion boards debated the appropriateness of Foley's remarks.

Amie Parnes, of The Stuart News, contributed to this report.

Joel Hood can be reached at jhood@sun-sentinel.com or 561-243-6611.

Copyright © 2006 South Florida Sun-Sentinel, All Rights Reserved.


(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. Martin County Democratic Executive Committee has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is Martin County Democratic Executive Committee endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

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