Mark Foley

Mark Adam Foley (born September 8, 1954) is an American politician, and was a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from 1995 until 2006, representing the 16th District of Florida. A former co-chair of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, he resigned on September 29, 2006 after it became public that he had allegedly sent sexually explicit emails and instant messages to boys under the age of 18 who were serving as Congressional pages.

Foley was born in Newton, Massachusetts. When he was three years old, his family moved to Lake Worth, Florida. Foley is a 1973 graduate of Lake Worth High School. Foley continued his education at Palm Beach Junior College, and was a the owner, with his mother, of the Lettuce Patch restaurant, and was a real estate broker after that.

At the age of 23, Foley was appointed to the Lake Worth City Council as a Democrat. After some failed bids for higher political offices, he was inspired by President Reagan to switch parties. He was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 1990 and to the Florida Senate in 1992.

He has served as chairman of Gulfstream Goodwill Industries and Palm Beach Regional Hospital. Foley also is a past president of the Central County Council of Realtors and the Lake Worth Chamber of Commerce.

Foley was elected to the U.S. House in 1994 with 58 percent of the vote, defeating Democrat John Comerford. He was re-elected in 1996 with 64 percent of the vote against Democrat Jim Stuber, and again in 1998 this time without opposition. He was re-elected in 2000 with 60 percent of the vote against Democrat Jean Elliott and Reform Party candidate John McGuire. Constitution Party candidate Jack McLain was his only opponent in 2002. He was re-elected in 2002 with 79 percent of the vote and in 2004 with 68 percent of the vote.

Foley was a member of the House Ways and Means Committee. He is a Republican, a member of Christine Todd Whitman's It's My Party Too and The Republican Main Street Partnership.

In late 2000, Foley played a large role in aiding George W. Bush during the Presidential election recount controversy in Florida.

In 2003, Foley was widely considered the Republican frontrunner for Bob Graham's Senate seat, especially after Graham had announced his retirement. However, longstanding rumors surfaced that Foley was either gay or bisexual and was in a longterm relationship with another man. The story was initially published only in the gay press; then the New Times broke the story in the mainstream press. Other papers, including the New York Press, then addressed the topic. Foley held a press conference to denounce the "revolting" rumors and stated that his sexual orientation was unimportant. A few weeks later, he withdrew his candidacy, saying his father's battle with cancer had caused him to reassess his perspective on life (the seat was later won by Republican Mel Martinez). Foley had raised $3 million in campaign contributions before withdrawing.

In 2006, as Republican division over the candidacy of Katherine Harris grew, Foley's name was mentioned as a contender for the race against Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, but he did not file by the May deadline.

In the House, Foley was one of the foremost opponents of child pornography. He resigned on September 29, 2006 when it was revealed he had sent sexually-themed messages to underaged Congressional pages. Foley had served as chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children. He introduced a bill in 2002 to outlaw websites featuring sexually suggestive images of preteen children, saying that "these websites are nothing more than a fix for pedophiles." In June 2003 he wrote letters to the governor and attorney general of Florida, asking them to review the legality of a program for teenagers of a Lake Como nudist resort in Land O'Lakes, Florida.

Foley's legislation to change federal sex offender laws was supported by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, America's Most Wanted host John Walsh, and a number of victims' rights groups. President George W. Bush signed it into law as part of the Adam Walsh Child Safety and Protection Act of 2006.

Foley also succeeded in getting a law passed that allows volunteer youth-serving organizations like the Boy Scouts of America and Boys and Girls Clubs to have access to FBI fingerprint background checks to help protect children.

Foley's stances on many social issues, such as abortion, differ from his party's leadership. Although a Roman Catholic, Foley is pro-choice (a member of The Republican Majority For Choice) but has advocated alternatives such as adoption and abstinence.

In 2001, he was one of only 23 Republicans who voted against giving President Bush a stronger hand in negotiating international trade agreements. He did offer last-minute support to the Central American Free Trade Agreement, saying that the measure, which passed the House 217-215, would not harm U.S. sugar interests in the long run.

Foley helped secure the first-ever financial commitment from Congress for the preservation of Florida's Everglades.

Foley helped pass legislation that expedites the deportation of non-violent criminal aliens serving their sentences in federal prisons; and helped eliminate federal prohibitions on notifying a campus community when a student commits a violent crime.

Foley worked to pass legislation to help surviving heirs of Holocaust victims who have been unable to collect on life insurance policies owed to them.

On September 28, 2006, ABC News reported that Foley had sent email messages, from his personal AOL account, to a then-16-year-old former male Congressional page, asking the page to send a photo of himself to Foley, among other things. Foley's office confirmed Foley sent the messages but said it has a practice of asking for photos of individuals who may ask for recommendations and that the page had requested a recommendation.

Foley's emails stated, in part

"did you have fun at your conference...what do you want for your birthday coming up....what stuff do you like to do" and "how are you weathering the hurricane....are you safe…send me an email pic of you as well...."

The page forwarded the messages to other Congressional staffers with the comments: "Maybe it is just me being paranoid, but seriously. This freaked me out," and "sick sick sick sick sick."

On September 29, 2006, ABC News reported that it had seen excerpts of sexually explicit instant messages Foley had sent to Congressional pages. The instant messages made repeated references to sexual organs and acts. In one, Foley wrote to a page, "Do I make you a little horny?"

According to several former congressional pages, the congressman used the screen name Maf54 on these messages.

This exchange included:

Maf54: do you really do it face down
Teen: ya
Maf54: kneeling
Teen: well i dont use my hand...i use the bed itself
Maf54: where do you unload it
Teen: towel
Maf54: really
Maf54: completely naked?
Teen: well ya
Maf54: very nice
Teen: lol
Maf54: cute butt bouncing in the air

Federal authorities say such messages could result in Foley's prosecution, under some of the same laws he helped to enact.

Foley submitted a letter of resignation from Congress on September 29, 2006 in the wake of news reports about the communications. Foley said in a statement, "I am deeply sorry and I apologize for letting down my family and the people of Florida I have had the privilege to represent."

This is not the first scandal involving members of Congress and teenage pages. In 1983, an unrepentant Congressmen Gerry Studds was censured for a relationship with a male page and Dan Crane plead guilty to sexual activity with a female page.

According to the Associated Press, "Rodney Alexander, R-La., who sponsored the page from his district, told reporters that he learned of the e-mails from a reporter some months ago and passed on the information to Rep. Thomas Reynolds, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Republican campaign organization. Carl Forti, a spokesman for the GOP campaign organization, said Reynolds learned from Alexander that the parents did not want to pursue the matter.

Rep. John Shimkus said "that in late 2005 he learned — through information passed along by Alexander's office — about an e-mail exchange in which Foley asked about the youngster's well-being after Hurricane Katrina, and requested a photograph." Foley was ordered to cease all contact with the former page and assured Shimkus he would do so.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi introduced a resolution calling for the House Ethics Committee to investigate the controversy, in part because the Democratic member of the Congressional page board, Dale Kildee, was never notified of this issue. This resolution was blocked by the Republican leadership. Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) offered a subsequent resolution that differed from Pelosi's in that it would not investigate the GOP leadership's response to the situation, while still sending the Foley matter to the House Ethics Committee for futher investigation. The vote for Boehner's resolution was 409-0.

Florida Republicans plan to meet as soon as October 2 to name a replacement to run as a Republican for Foley's district.

The replacement will face Democrat Tim Mahoney in the November general election, though according to Florida election law, Foley's name will remain on the ballot. Any votes cast for Foley in the November election will be counted towards the party's replacement candidate. Mahoney has called for a full investigation of Foley's actions.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home