The truth? It's two-on-one against Hastert's chief of staff

Did Scott Palmer hear about Foley's problems? Did he confront Foley about them? Stories diverge.


Tim Grieve
December 9, 2006 1:12AM (UTC)

According to the House Ethics Committee's report on the Mark Foley scandal, former House Clerk Jeff Trandahl repeatedly raised concerns about Foley's behavior with Kirk Fordham, Foley's chief of staff. Trandahl thought that Foley was too close with the pages, he told the committee, and that he was creating a major political risk for himself. "Here you had ... a closeted gay guy who was putting himself in a situation of being one on one with young people," Trandahl told the committee.

Fordham says he talked with Foley about the problem repeatedly. But when it persisted, Fordham and Trandahl agreed in late 2002 or early 2003 that someone should talk with Scott Palmer, the chief of staff to Speaker Dennis Hastert, in the hopes of getting either Palmer or Hastert himself to tell Foley to steer clear of the pages.

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Fordham told the committee that he called Palmer, then met with him in his office inside the Capitol. Fordham discussed the meeting in detail with the committee -- where it happened, what the room looked like, what he said, what Palmer said -- and said he had a follow-up call with Palmer in which Palmer said that he'd spoken with Foley about the page problem and brought Hastert "into the loop" as well. Trandahl corroborated at least some of Fordham's story, saying that he talked with Palmer and that Palmer had told him that he'd talked with Fordham about Foley's problem.

Palmer? He says he has no recollection of any of it and believes that it "didn't happen." "I know what I remember, which unfortunately is nothing, or maybe fortunately, because that may be the truth," Palmer told the committee.

The committee's conclusion: "The weight of the evidence supports a conclusion that Kirk Fordham talked to Scott Palmer about Fordham's concerns about Rep. Foley's conduct, and that Palmer later talked to Rep. Foley."


Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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