Foley, GOPers Pay for Scandal Lawyers With Campaign Funds

By Justin Rood

Apr 16, 2007 12:14pm

Former Congressman Mark Foley has spent more than $250,000 of his campaign funds on lawyers since he was exposed for having inappropriate sexual conversations with minors online. The law allows Foley to pay Zuckerman Spaeder LLP from his pot of over $1.5 million in campaign funds that he had amassed prior to the scandal.  Federal politicians can spend campaign money on their legal defense if they are facing charges relating to their conduct in office. Curiously, neither David Roth nor Gerald Richman, the two lawyers who have been cited in news articles as representing Foley, appear to be associated with Zuckerman Spaeder. Foley’s campaign has been dissolved, and neither Zuckerman Spaeder nor the two men immediately returned calls for comment. THE BLOTTER RECOMMENDS Photos Mark Foley: Racing Into Trouble Discretion Advised Read the Instant Messages That Forced Foley to Resign Click Here to Check Out Brian Ross Slideshows Foley is not the only figure in the scandal to run up a hefty bill with his lawyers using campaign funds. Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., has racked up over $130,000 in legal fees, Federal Election Commission filings show.  Some lawmakers and aides involved in the scandal said they had warned Hastert and his staff about questionable behavior by Foley years before sexually suggestive electronic conversations between Foley and young male pages surfaced. Click Here for Full Blotter Coverage. Moreover, the House Ethics Committee found that Hastert’s use of private lawyer Randy Evans to represent him and two of his key aides in the scandal came dangerously close to obstructing justice. Hastert has paid over $80,000 in funds raised for his re-election to the firm of McKenna, Long and Aldridge, which employs Evans. The former GOP leader’s campaign still owes the firm $52,128, his election filings show. Hastert’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. And retired lawmaker Jim Kolbe from Arizona took a big hit in legal fees, paying out $120,000 in cash from his old campaign war chest to Wilmer Hale. The law firm employs former White House counsel Reginald Brown, whom Kolbe retained in December to represent him in twin investigations by the House Ethics Committee and the Department of Justice. The ethics committee concluded that Kolbe had discouraged a teenage House page from coming forward after the young man forwarded Kolbe a communication from Foley that made reference to the page’s penis size. Kolbe has said he could not open the e-mail attachment containing Foley’s message, and that the page had already decided not to report the incident. Kolbe has faced a separate inquiry from the Department of Justice over a 1996 trip to the Grand Canyon the congressman took with his sister and two teenage former pages. One of the pages has since complained to a reporter of "fawning, petting and touching" by the congressman and said he was "creeped out" by it.  Kolbe has said there is "no basis and no truth" to any allegations of inappropriate behavior on the trip. Former House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, has paid out $47,500 in legal fees from his campaign coffers recently. A staffer told ABC News the fees are unrelated to his role in the Foley scandal; he has been engaged in a legal battle with  Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., whom Boehner has accused of acting illegally in connection with a surreptitious recording of a 1997 conversation among GOP lawmakers. McDermott has called Boehner’s efforts "frivolous." Boehner, now the House Minority Leader, said he warned Hastert about questionable, though not sexually explicit, e-mails between Foley and a male page months before the scandal broke. Hastert has disputed that. Legal fees also piled up for Rep. Tom Reynolds, R-N.Y., former head of the House GOP’s political arm, who was also implicated in the scandal. Reynolds, like Boehner, said he warned Hastert about Foley after he learned of the questionable e-mail sent to a former page, which Hastert has denied.  Reynolds has paid over $21,000 in legal fees from his campaign account. Reynolds’
office did not immediately respond with a comment for this article. One figure from the scandal shows no legal fees being paid from his campaign war chest: former House Page Board Chairman Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., who the House Ethics Committee blasted for failing to properly investigate early warnings about Foley.

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