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In addition, the ethics committee also was troubled by a meeting of GOP leaders, Members and staffers linked to the scandal that took place shortly after Foley resigned from the House and an investigation had been approved by the chamber. Reynolds refused to attend that meeting, although his counsel, Randy Evans, later helped the Speaker’s office construct its own timeline laying out how it handled the Foley matter.
“The Investigative Subcommittee understands the need in a political environment to respond quickly to perceived negative press reports,” the committee report stated. “However, in the Investigative Subcommittee’s view, the efforts by the Speaker’s office to prepare a statement under the direction of Evans could have had the additional effect of inhibiting the Investigative Subcommittee’s ability to secure evidence from witnesses without interference resulting from efforts to compare and contrast recollections prior to testimony before the Committee.”
Evans later appeared before the ethics committee as Hastert’s counsel, as well as counsel to two of his aides. The committee has suggested changing panel rules to prevent an attorney from representing more than one witness who has to testify before it.
Kolbe — who is still under federal investigation for his own personal dealings with former pages, including a 1996 trip to the Grand Canyon — was criticized in Friday’s report for failing to ask for information about a sexually graphic electronic message sent by Foley to a former page back in 2001.
Kolbe testified that he had his staff contact Foley’s office and Trandahl and then let the matter drop.
And when that former page contacted Kolbe on Sept. 29, 2006, once the Foley scandal had become public and the Florida Republican had stepped down, Kolbe reportedly told the man, now a college student, that “it is best that you don’t even bring this up with anybody. ... [T]here is no good that can come from it if you actually talk about this. The man has resigned anyway.”
Kolbe acknowledged speaking to the former page but “says that the page had already decided that he was not going to report the [instant message] and that he merely responded, ‘That’s your decision.’”
Kolbe then contacted the former page when he became aware that The Washington Post was going to run a story about the 2001 incident with Foley, but denied that he had any further contact with the man and advised him to retain a lawyer.
The subcommittee “heard some testimony regarding the [1996 allegations against Kolbe], but Rep. Kolbe did not provide full and complete testimony regarding the allegations citing the pending federal inquiry.”
While Kolbe soon will be outside the ethics committee’s jurisdiction, the subcommittee found that Kolbe “should have asked for the instant message (if he did not already have it) in order to make sure that his response was the correct one.”
In a statement released Friday, Kolbe said, “The report demonstrates that members of my office and I took prompt action in 2001 to address the complaint that was brought to our attention by a college student from my district who had previously served as a House Page.