House overhauls supervision of pages

The board will now include a former page and a parent of a current or former page.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The House overhauled the board supervising its teenage pages Friday, responding to a scandal that left youngsters vulnerable to a lawmaker's sexual come-ons and helped Democrats win control of Congress.
The vote was 416-0 to equalize the political membership of the House Page Board, whose Republican chairman never told two board colleagues that he believed -- for a year -- that Rep. Mark Foley was a "ticking time bomb."
The expanded board also will include a former page and the parent of a current or former page to add new pairs of eyes to spot any future examples of misconduct.
Pages are high school students who run errands for lawmakers while learning about Congress, attending a congressionally run high school and living in a supervised dormitory.
Members of the page board, part of a congressional network serving as surrogate parents, also would meet regularly under the legislation.
Foley, R-Fla., resigned Sept. 29, and polls showed the scandal was a factor in Republicans losing control of the House in November.
The former lawmaker became acquainted with the teenagers while they worked in Congress, and kept in touch after they left -- sending some overly friendly e-mails and sending others sexually explicit instant messages.
In remarks before the vote, lawmakers expressed anger that the past board chairman, John Shimkus, R-Ill., failed to convene the board when he learned in the fall of 2005 that Foley had sent overly friendly e-mails to a former Louisiana page.
Frozen out were Reps. Dale Kildee, D-Mich., the new board chairman, and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., who will remain on the board.
Both said they learned of Foley's conduct when he resigned and his conduct became public. They were co-sponsors of the newly approved changes.
The House ethics committee, in a December report on the scandal, said that after Foley resigned, Shimkus told Capito "that he believed he had done the right thing in 2005 based on the information he had, but added words to the effect of Dale's [Rep. Kildee] a nice guy, but he's a Democrat, and I was afraid it would be blown out of proportion."
The report also said that the House clerk, Jeff Trandahl, warned Shimkus that Foley was a "ticking time bomb" who had been confronted repeatedly about his conduct with pages.
Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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