Republican cover-up charge over sex e-mails to boy, 16
REPUBLICAN Party leaders in the United States faced calls for an inquiry yesterday amid accusations they turned a blind eye to a Florida congressman who sent sexually explicit e-mails to a 16-year-old boy.
Mark Foley, 52, a deputy Republican whip, resigned last Friday following the revelations. Since then, it has emerged that he shared a series of salacious communications with at least two other messenger boys who worked on Capitol Hill.
Dennis Hastert, the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, yesterday condemned Mr Foley's actions as "abhorrent" and "an obscene breach of trust", adding: "His immediate resignation must now be followed by the full weight of the criminal justice system."
But it has emerged that Mr Hastert was told about some of the e-mails months ago by congressman Thomas Reynolds, chairman of the Republican national congressional committee, who failed to pursue the matter.
The scandal has rocked Capitol Hill and left the Republican Party scrambling to limit the damage just weeks before the congressional elections, where they face losing their majority.
"Congressman Reynolds's inaction in the face of such a serious situation is very troubling and raises important questions about whether there was an attempt to cover up criminal activity involving a minor to keep it from coming to light before election day," said Karen Finney, spokesman for the Democratic national committee.
It emerged that several other members of the Republican leadership - including the House majority leader, John Boehner - also knew of the messages.
Mr Foley could now be prosecuted under laws he helped enact as chairman of Congress's missing and exploited children's caucus, a role in which he often vowed to root out child predators.
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