Sex and Scandal: Foley Case Jolts GOP

ByABC News via logo
October 8, 2006, 7:32 AM

Oct. 8, 2006 — -- The latest headline to grip Capitol Hill comes from the Los Angeles Times: A former House page tells the paper anonymously that former Rep. Mark Foley's online flirtation led to sex in the lawmaker's Washington townhouse when the young man was 21.

And a Florida congresswoman says she's learned Foley was turned away from the page dorm late one night in 2002 or 2003.

The reports are the latest revelations in a scandal that initially centered on lewd electronic messages exchanged between Foley and underage pages. Each successive revelation has been seen deepening the troubles for Republicans, who are trying to retain control of Congress in November's mid-term elections.

Before Foley resigned in disgrace more than a week ago, about 40 GOP seats were thought to be in play. Now, eight more may be competitive, including one held by the man charged with keeping Republicans in power, Rep. Tom Reynolds, R-N.Y.

Top Republicans acknowledge they'd probably lose the House if the election were held today. They only have a month to try to turn things around.

"This is going to be the most difficult 30 days in the last 12 years that we've been in the majority," said Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Ill., on CBS' "Face the Nation."

But on ABC News' "This Week," Rep. Adam Putnam, R-Fla., chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee, called a month "an eternity in politics."

Still, Time and Newsweek both published polls Sunday showing that a majority of Americans now want Democrats to win control of Congress in November.

In the Newsweek poll, 53 percent of those questioned said they want the Democrats to win Congress, including 10 percent of the Republicans in the poll. Fifty-two percent of those questioned said they believe House Speaker Dennis Hastert knew about Foley's inappropriate behavior and tried to cover it up.

To win in November, Democrats need to knock off 15 Republicans, and they are increasingly optimistic that Reynolds will be one of them.

After eight years representing upstate New York, Reynolds was thought to be so safe that he was put in charge of raising money for other GOP candidates, but now Democrats have hit the airwaves with ads accusing him of not doing enough to stop Foley from harassing pages.

"Reynolds not only failed to act; he actually urged the Florida congressman to run for office again, possibly putting more kids at risk," one ad states.