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Aide: Congressman learned of Foley e-mail in 2000

From Dana Bash
CNN
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe's office received a complaint about then-Rep. Mark Foley's Internet exchanges with teen pages in 2000, resulting in "corrective action" against the lawmaker, a spokeswoman for Kolbe said Monday.

Spokeswoman Korenna Cline said she didn't know what the "corrective action" entailed, but Kolbe's office thought the matter was resolved.

Also, former House Clerk Jeff Trandahl, who oversaw the page program, cited concerns about Foley's contacts with congressional pages long before Trandahl resigned from the post in 2005, sources told CNN on Monday.

Trandahl repeatedly raised red flags about Foley's behavior with pages years before Republican leaders confronted Foley about an e-mail he sent to a former page in 2005, sources familiar with the situation told CNN.

Attempts to reach Trandahl or his representatives for comment were unsuccessful.

The Washington Post, which first reported the story about Kolbe, said Kolbe confronted Foley directly. However, Cline said it was not clear whether Kolbe, an Arizona Republican, confronted Foley or if his staff addressed the matter.

Foley's behavior came to Kolbe's attention when a former page reported to his office that he had received an e-mail from Foley, she said.

"We got a complaint that this made the former page uncomfortable," said Cline, adding that Kolbe's staff did not see the e-mail and it was not alleged to be sexually explicit.

However, the Post reported that a source for its article described the e-mails as sexually explicit and read the contents to the newspaper, asking that they not be reprinted.

Foley, a Republican who represented a Florida district for six terms, abruptly resigned September 29 as allegations surfaced that he exchanged inappropriate e-mails and lurid text messages with underage pages. (Watch how the scandal has left Foley's district in shock -- 1:23 Video)

Since Foley's resignation, Kolbe aides have advised the former page to notify current House Clerk Karen Haas about the incident, Cline said.

Kolbe, a former page himself, is the only openly gay Republican in the House of Representatives.

Kolbe plans to retire from Congress at year's end.

Through his attorney, Foley said also last week that he was gay. Foley did not identify himself as gay while he was a member of Congress.

Kolbe's account and the reports on Trandahl are the latest in a series of assertions that raise questions about when Republicans learned of the messages and how they handled them.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Illinois, has acknowledged that his office was told in November 2005 about Foley's "overly friendly" e-mails to a 16-year-old boy who had served as a Capitol Hill messenger. Hastert said that led to a private rebuke for the Florida lawmaker, who promised to stop the conduct.

Hastert and other top GOP lawmakers have said they were not aware of the sexually explicit instant messages between Foley and other pages that emerged the day of Foley's resignation.

A former GOP staffer, Kirk Fordham, said he notified Hastert's office of concerns about Foley long before November 2005, but Hastert's chief of staff, Scott Palmer, said that "did not happen."

Fordham, who served as chief of staff to Foley and Rep. Tom Reynolds, R-New York, during his tenure, is expected to talk to the House Ethics Committee this week under oath, his attorney said. Fordham already has been interviewed by the FBI. (Watch how Fordham is expected to testify in the scandal -- 3:01 Video)

Sources said Trandahl, the ex-House clerk, took his concerns to Fordham several times. The sources told CNN that Trandahl was actively monitoring Foley's interaction with pages.

Democrats have accused Republicans of covering up for Foley as an election neared.

Meanwhile, a CNN poll released Monday found that most Americans believe the GOP mishandled the Foley matter. The survey, conducted Friday through Sunday by Opinion Research Corp., found that 17 percent felt it was handled appropriately, while 75 percent said Republicans took inappropriate steps.

The poll also indicates that 52 percent of those polled think Hastert should resign. (Read how half of America wants Hastert to go)

Hastert has refused calls to resign from some influential conservatives and said he intends to stand for the job again after November's midterm elections.


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Former Rep. Mark Foley resigned after sexually explicit instant messages he allegedly sent to teenage congressional pages surfaced.

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