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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Updated: Republicans quit after new page sex allegations

6

December

Ginny

U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite resigned from the board overseeing the troubled House page program, saying the program has been poorly managed and that four pages have recently been dismissed for shoplifting and "inappropriate sexual indiscretions."

Brown-Waite, R-Brooksville, and the other Republican on the panel, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, blamed the Democrats who run the House for failing to fix problems that were exposed by the scandal involving former Rep. Mark Foley’s sexual conversations with former pages.

"It’s almost like the Democrats haven’t learned from the Mark Foley thing," said Brown-Waite.

Capito issued a statement that said, "Unfortunately, the problems with communication between board members that plagued the program in the past have only continued under new House leadership. Members of this board cannot productively tackle problems that may occur with our pages when questionable incidents are held from members of the Page Board."

Brown-Waite said two pages were dismissed after they allegedly stole merchandise from a shopping mall in September. The congresswoman said "the amount was substantial."

Members of the page board weren’t told about the incident for a week, she said.

Two other pages were recently dismissed from the program because of "inappropriate sexual indiscretions." She said the indiscretions involved the student pages — and not any adults — but that other pages were "enablers and...observers."

It is with sincere regret that I am forced to write this letter of
resignation to you today. Since my appointment to the House Page Board
earlier this year, it has been my wish to see a strong and vibrant page
program reestablished in the United States Capitol. Unfortunately, due
to the failed leadership of the Clerk of the House, and the continued
lack of oversight, I have no choice but to resign as a Republican
representative to the Page Board. It is my hope that this drastic step
will bring attention to the continued mismanagement of the pages and
help revive the flagging program.

Following the upheaval of the page program last September and October,
Speaker Hastert took affirmative steps to provide more oversight of the
program. When you took office as Speaker this year, you also suggested,
and I supported, what I thought were well designed changes to the page
program. When I agreed to serve as a Republican representative to the
Page Board, I truly believed that we would have the opportunity to make
a difference in the lives of hundreds of high school students working in
our Capitol. Unfortunately, what I have seen is even less oversight and
less supervision from the Clerk's and your office than in Congresses
past. This year has already seen four pages dismissed from the program;
dismissals for serious criminal acts and for inappropriate sexual
indiscretions between the students. Given the rate and seriousness of
these events, I do not see how the page program can be properly
administered with the current leadership of the Clerk of the House.

To be quite frank with you, while the makeup of the board has expanded,
and the Party in control has changed, I have yet to see the wholesale
changes that were promised by you and your leadership team upon taking
office this year. It is clear to me that you have paid nothing more than
lip service to a wholesale revamping of the program, and that you have
learned nothing from the lessons of the Mark Foley scandal. Page
supervision, other than on the floor of the House, is found to be sorely
lacking, and the Clerk has been slow to share information with members
of the Board. In at least one vitally important incident, we were
intentionally kept in the dark about dismissals for more than a week,
and were only given the details after personally confronting the Clerk
with rumors we had heard. Madam Speaker, it is impossible to do our jobs
as Page Board members if we are not given the information necessary to
make decisions in the best interests of the students and their families
back home. Withholding information is simply an unacceptable management
practice.

Sadly, I submit this letter of resignation with the full knowledge that
in the short term the credibility of the Board will be damaged, and the
page program may suffer. However, I see no other alternative to bring to
your, and the rest of the House's, attention the serious management
problems the page program currently faces. We have been given no
opportunity to make substantive changes. Please know that I wish current
and future students the best in their studies, and that I thank the
other members of the Board for their time and service. I hope that you
take the seriousness of my resignation to heart and that immediate
action is taken to put strong and effective oversight of the Page
program into place. The pages serving the House, and their parents,
deserve nothing less. Until I can ensure parents that proper supervision
is provided, I intend to not seek students to participate and encourage
my colleagues to do the same."

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 3:09pm]

    

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