10 October, 2006

Foley Scandal May Be Becoming An Issue In Hall-Kelly Race

For several days the John Hall campaign has been trying to make the case that ex-congressman Mark Foley might have been acting improperly toward teen pages during the time when Hall's opponent, Rep. Sue Kelly, was on the page board.

That effort gained some traction yesterday, after the Washington Post reported that Republican Rep. Jim Kolbe of Arizona had gotten wind back in 2000 that Foley was sending inappropriate e-mails to one page, and called Foley to task for it.

The year 2000 is significant to the race in New York's 19th Congressional District because Kelly was on the page board at that time.

So, if Kolbe's recollections are accurate, Hall's questions about Kelly's stewardship of the page board go from theoretical to something more concrete.

At least that is the feeling of CQpolitics.com, the political blog of the inside-the-Beltway publication Congressional Quarterly. CQ has changed the rating on this race to "leans Republican" from "Republican favored," and cites the Foley issue as a chief reason for the change.

The revelations from Kolbe prompted the Hall campaign to step up its attack against Kelly on the issue. The campaign issued a press release today accusing Kelly of "stonewalling:"

"Until Kelly explains what she knew about Foley's long history of lewd misconduct or why she didn't know what was going on under her nose, voters in the 19th Congressional District - and all Americans - have to believe that she's stonewalling on the subject and trying to save her political hide."

Kelly's spokesman Jay Townsend says the Congresswoman has answered the questions posed by Hall, saying Kelly had no knowledge of any problems with Foley.

"She has already said that no complaints were filed while she was on the page board, and that had she been told of inappropriate behavior she would have acted immediately. Such is not stonewalling; it is a statement of fact. That Mr. Hall would engage in a guilt-by-implication smear campaign is to be expected."

Townsend then criticized bloggers in general and this one in particular for "parroting" Hall's comments without assessing their merit.

"At some point would it not be incumbent on people like yourself to ask Hall for proof of his baseless assertions, rather that parroting his rhetoric as fact?"

For the record, this blog has been reluctant to tie Kelly to the Foley mess, having done only one post on the matter - when Kelly's service on the page board first became part of the public conversation.

We have examined and ignored other releases from Hall on the matter. It was not until Kolbe's revelation yesterday that the scandal stretched back to at least 2000, and until a non-partisan, well-respected publication like Congressional Quarterly acknowledged the impact the scandal was having on the race, that we decided to do more on the matter.

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