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Lawmakers upset over reports of sex, shoplifting by pages

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  • NEW: House clerk says members where promptly notified of page infractions
  • Two Republican members resign from board overseeing House pages
  • Lawmakers say supervision of pages has not improved since Mark Foley scandal
  • Pages dismissed for crimes, public sex acts, GOP lawmaker says
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A lawmaker who resigned from the board that oversees Capitol Hill pages said one parent suggested lax supervision led to "kids gone wild."

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The House page program came under scrutiny after the Mark Foley scandal last year.

Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Florida, Friday said she resigned because she was angered to learn that two pages had oral sex in public areas of the their Capitol Hill dorm. The pages were dismissed from the program, but Brown-Waite said the incident is an example of lax supervision of the teens.

"It wasn't kissing and hugging -- let me put it that way," Brown-Waite said. "It did go beyond that, there were not only a young male and female involved, but there were also observers and other page participants who were, let's say, enablers."

"This had been going on for months," she said. "Almost all of the pages knew about it."

No members of Congress were involved, Brown-Waite said.

Brown-Waite also said she was angry the board was not promptly notified about a report of shoplifting by one of the pages.

"One parent dubbed it 'kids gone wild,' " Brown-Waite said. "That's a shame." Video See dorm where pages live »

House Clerk Lorraine Miller, who administers the program, said the students involved were dismissed.

Brown-Waite said her resignation was meant "to send a loud and clear message" to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders.

A second Republican, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, also resigned from the board in protest, effective Friday.

The page program came under scrutiny last year when sexually suggestive e-mails surfaced from then-Rep. Mark Foley to male pages. Foley, a Florida Republican, later said he is gay and resigned from Congress.

During an investigation into the Foley scandal, the House Ethics Committee found that some people who knew about Foley's questionable communications chose to "remain willfully ignorant" rather than confront the matter. However, the committee concluded no House rules were broken.

Then-House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Illinois, promised an overhaul of the program, which Pelosi pledged to pursue after Democrats gained control of the House of Representatives in the 2006 elections.

"Apparently Democrats didn't learn from the Mark Foley incident that pages need better supervision," Brown-Waite said. "Apparently they haven't learned anything."

Brown-Waite added, "Nancy Pelosi is a mother and a grandmother. She should be embarrassed."

Pelosi said in a statement that the pages involved were immediately expelled and sent home because of a "zero tolerance" policy for page misconduct.

"The House Page Board must undertake an immediate and thorough review of the adequacy of the supervision and security at the page dorm. As a mother and a grandmother, nothing is more important to me than the safety and security of our House pages," Pelosi said.

Miller said she promptly notified the board of the inappropriate conduct by the pages.

"On one occasion this year, Rep. Brown-Waite was not informed immediately of a page's dismissal -- the incident occurred over a weekend and she was informed on the next business day," Miller said in a statement released Friday. "After that incident, board members asked that they all be informed immediately of any such disciplinary action, and the clerk provided that notice in the most recent case," referring to the sex acts.

In her resignation letter to Pelosi, Brown-Waite wrote that she has seen "even less oversight from the clerk's office and from your office than in Congresses past."

Brown-Waite also complained of the "failed leadership of the Clerk of the House."

"This year has already seen four pages dismissed from the program; dismissals for serious criminal acts and for inappropriate sexual indiscretions between the students," she wrote.

In her statement released Thursday, Miller responded, "These recent dismissals are an example of our willingness to exercise our option of immediate dismissal from the program, an option that we will continue to exercise when appropriate and warranted."

But Brown-Waite wrote, "To be quite frank with you, while the makeup of the board has expanded, and the party in control has changed, I have yet to see the wholesale changes that were promised by you and your leadership team upon taking office this year.

"It is clear to me that you have paid nothing more than lip service to a wholesale revamping of the program, and that you have learned nothing from the lessons of the Mark Foley scandal."

Brown-Waite and Capito said communication with the Clerk of the House also was problematic.

"Members of this board cannot productively tackle problems that may occur with our pages when questionable incidents are held from members of the Page Board," Capito said in a statement. "There have been numerous occurrences this year in which board members have not received timely information, and it is my belief that to move forward we must start fresh with a truly open dialogue."

Brown-Waite said board members "were intentionally kept in the dark" about some dismissals of pages for more than a week, adding they got no information until "personally confronting the clerk with rumors we had heard."

"Withholding information is simply an unacceptable management practice," she said.

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Miller did not address those concerns, but she said she welcomed "constructive criticism" and "ideas for further improvement."

The House page program is open to high school juniors who maintain a "B" average. Those accepted into the program are housed at a dormitory on Capitol Hill and attend school at the Library of Congress. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Deirdre Walsh and Jessica Yellin contributed to this report.

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