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Archive for October 12th, 2006

HOW ROVE TWISTED FOLEY’S ARM


It seems increasingly clear that the GOP congressional leadership, eager for every safe incumbent in the House to run for re-election, looked the other way as evidence accumulated that Mark Foley had a thing for pages. Holding onto his seat became more important than confronting him over his extracurricular activities.

But there’s more to the story of why Foley stood for re-election this year. Yesterday, a source close to Foley explained to THE NEW REPUBLIC that in early 2006 the congressman had all but decided to retire from the House and set up shop on K Street. “Mark’s a friend of mine,” says this source. “He told me, ‘I’m thinking about getting out of it and becoming a lobbyist.'”

But when Foley’s friend saw the Congressman again this spring, something had changed. To the source’s surprise, Foley told him he would indeed be standing for re-election. What happened? Karl Rove intervened.

According to the source, Foley said he was being pressured by “the White House and Rove gang,” who insisted that Foley run. If he didn’t, Foley was told, it might impact his lobbying career.

“He said, ‘The White House made it very clear I have to run,'” explains Foley’s friend, adding that Foley told him that the White House promised that if Foley served for two more years it would “enhance his success” as a lobbyist. “I said, ‘I thought you wanted out of this?’ And he said, ‘I do, but they’re scared of losing the House and the thought of two years of Congressional hearings, so I have two more years of duty.'”

The White House declined a request for comment on the matter, but obviously the plan hasn’t worked out quite as Rove hoped it would.

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Hastert Aides Interest Ethics Panel


With House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert denying personal knowledge of former representative Mark Foley‘s activities, investigators for the House ethics committee are bearing down on three senior members of Hastert’s staff to determine when they learned of Foley’s actions and whether they passed on their knowledge to the speaker.

The three — chief of staff Scott Palmer, deputy chief of staff Mike Stokke and counsel Ted Van Der Meid — have formed a palace guard around Hastert (R-Ill.) for years, attaining great degrees of power and unusual autonomy to deal with matters of politics, policy and House operations. They are also remarkably close. Palmer and Stokke have been with Hastert for decades. They live together in a Capitol Hill townhouse and commute back to Illinois on weekends.

It is that relationship that has made investigators so interested in their knowledge of Foley’s contacts with teenage male congressional pages, especially allegations that his chief of staff personally appealed to Palmer in 2003 to confront the Florida Republican. Foley resigned Sept. 29 when news reports indicated he had sent electronic messages to a former page.

“It would be very hard to believe if Palmer knew that kind of detail, he wouldn’t have acted upon it, and it’s hard to imagine Scott Palmer would have spared the speaker that knowledge,” said one former Republican leadership aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of jeopardizing his lobbying contacts.

Within Hastert’s operation, some staff members appear to point accusingly at Van Der Meid, who is in charge of ethics matters and is widely believed to have steered Hastert wrong before.

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According to Kuo, Karl Rove’s office referred to evangelical leaders as ‘the nuts.’

Tonight on Countdown–David Kuo, who was the number two guy at the Office of Faith Based initiatives in the White House writes a scathing account of how the administration used Christians to grab and maintain power. This story validates Tucker Carlson’s admission that: “The deep truth is that the elites in the Republican Party have pure contempt for the evangelicals who put their party in power.”

Transcript Below the Fold

When President Bush touched on Iraq at his news conference this morning, he may have been revealing more than he knew.

BUSH: The stakes couldn’t be any higher, as I said earlier, in the world in which we live. There are extreme elements that use religion to achieve objectives.

He was talking about religious extremists in Iraq. But an hour later, Mr. Bush posed with officials from the Southern Baptist Convention.

It is described as the largest, most influential evangelical denomination in a new book by the former number-two man in Bush’s Office of Faith-Based Initiatives.

The book, “Tempting Faith,” not out until Monday, but in our third story tonight, a Countdown exclusive we’ve obtained a copy and it is devastating work.

Author David Kuo’s conservative Christian credentials are impeccable; his resume sprinkled with names like Bennett and Ashcroft. Now, as the Foley cover-up has many evangelical Christians wondering whether the G.O.P. is really in sync with their values, “Tempting Faith” provides the answer: No way.

Kuo, citing one example after another of a White House that repeatedly uses evangelical Christians for their votes — while consistently giving them nothing in return;

A White House which routinely speaks of the nation’s most famous evangelical leaders behind their backs, with contempt and derision.

Furthermore, Faith-Based Initiatives were not only stiffed on one public promise after another by Mr. Bush — the office itself was eventually forced to answer a higher calling: Electing Republican politicians.

Kuo’s bottom line: the Bush White House is playing millions of American Christians for suckers.

According to Kuo, Karl Rove’s office referred to evangelical leaders as ‘the nuts.’

Kuo says, ‘National Christian leaders received hugs and smiles in person and then were dismissed behind their backs and described as ‘ridiculous,’ ‘out of control,’ and just plain ‘goofy.’ “

So how does the Bush White House keep ‘the nuts’ turning out at the polls?

One way, regular conference calls with groups led by Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Ted Haggard, and radio hosts like Michael Reagan.

Kuo says, “Participants were asked to talk to their people about whatever issue was pending. Advice was solicited [but] that advice rarely went much further than the conference call. [T]he true purpose of these calls was to keep prominent social conservatives and their groups or audiences happy.”

They do get some things from the Bush White House, like the National Day of Prayer, “another one of the eye-rolling Christian events,” Kuo says.

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