The real wonder of the Mark Foley scandal may be how it stayed under wraps for so long. As the story continued to pick up momentum yesterday, Capitol Hill journalists came out of the woodwork to declare that they, too, knew that the Florida Republican had a reputation for coming on to teenage Congressional pages. One D.C. reporter recounted getting a number of email printouts from a source in May—the same messages that eventually brought about Foley’s downfall after they turned up last week on an anonymous blog called Stop Sex Predators. The reporter said she found the emails “inappropriate and a little bit creepy,” but not newsworthy enough to get her editor’s support for a full-blown investigation.
“He said, ‘Do some reporting, see what you can get, but I’m not into this,'” she recalls. Part of the problem was that the page’s name and his responses were redacted from the printout, making it difficult to determine his identity or assess to what extent he had been an active participant in the flirtation rather than a passive victim.
Of course, notes the reporter, evidence of this particular Congressman hitting on a teenage boy was not as shocking to a Washington insider as one might expect. “He’s always had a reputation of hitting on young guys—legal-age young guys, that is,” she says. “It seemed believable to me.”