House speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., tries to change the subject. But the accusations about Hastert subordinates who were apparently told about Congressman Mark Foley's questionable behavior keep coming.
Hastert spoke to reporters Tuesday, insisting that he and the GOP House leadership had done nothing wrong in the House page scandal involving ex-Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla. The speaker heralded the economy: "We've lowered people's taxes. They have more money in their pockets to spend," he said.
Meanwhile, ABC News has learned that one former staffer who worked for the GOP leadership will tell the House Ethics Committee Thursday about an incident several years ago in which he was alerted that an apparently inebriated Foley had tried to gain access to the pages' dormitory.
A source with firsthand knowledge of events says that this coming Thursday, Kirk Fordham -- former chief of staff to both Foley and more recently Rep. Tom Reynolds, R-N.Y. -- will testify that a few years ago he was told by then-House clerk Jeff Trandahl that Foley had been stopped while trying to enter the pages' dorm in an apparently intoxicated state. The source said Fordham will testify that he recalls this being the event that convinced both him and Trandahl to warn Hastert's office, with Fordham designated to have the conversation with Hastert's chief of staff, Scott Palmer. The source said that both aides had been watching Foley's behavior with pages and that Fordham had counseled Foley to watch his behavior.
The source tells ABC News that Fordham will testify that he alerted Palmer that Foley had a pattern of displaying inappropriate behavior toward pages. Asked about Fordham's claim that he met with Palmer in approximately 2003 to warn him about Foley's behavior, Palmer said in a statement, "What Kirk Fordham said did not happen."
Last month, before the Foley scandal broke, Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Fla., also learned about the dormitory incident, which she said she was told about from firsthand sources. After learning about an inappropriate but not sexually charged e-mail Foley sent, which had been posted on ABCNEWS.com's "The Blotter" on Thursday Sept. 28, Brown-Waite decided to launch her own investigation. She said she alerted GOP leadership on Friday Sept. 29 about both the dorm incident and about pages who had been made to feel uncomfortable by Foley. That evening the Foley scandal erupted with news of the lurid Instant Messages Foley had sent former pages.
But in Aurora, Ill., today Hastert told ABC News that he didn't know of any Foley incident other than those conducted via computer. "I understood what my staff has told me, and they've handled it as well as they should have," he said. "In 20/20 hindsight, you could probably do everything a little better."
"If there was a problem, if there was a cover-up then we should find that out through the investigation process," Hastert said. "They'll be under oath, and we'll find out if they did cover up something; then they should not continue to have their jobs."
Across the country, the scandal continued to reverberate. In Oklahoma City, the FBI interviewed former congressional page Jordan Edmund -- and his lawyer -- for 2½ hours about inappropriate e-mails Foley may have sent him.