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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

The congressional page who took down Florida Rep. Mark Foley

20

November

Politico Magazine has a first-person account from the congressional page who leaked to the news media lewd messages from Florida Rep. Mark Foley.

Working in Congress, you quickly realize how much it’s like any other office. There are the charming, warm-and-friendly types—J.C. Watts, who knew people by name, or Loretta Sanchez, who had an easy comfort with pages—and the confrontational types, like Jesse Jackson, Jr., who once accused a page of stealing a large pizza he had ordered and hiding it in the cloakroom.

Foley was the former. Glossy, every detail of his appearance immaculate and manicured, Foley kept in good shape and wore tailored suits. His skin was richly tanned, like the soft leather upholstery on a private jet, and he had an easy demeanor about him, a magnetic friendliness that made you seem like he really cared about you. On the Hill, Foley was known as something of a publicity hog, the guy who bragged about showing celebrities like Julia Roberts and Melanie Griffith around the Capitol, never one to miss a good photo op. His attraction to celebrity was so apparent and distinct that California Rep. Mary Bono—one to know—nicknamed him “Hollywood.”

Most of the members paid no attention to the pages, but there were those who were friendly, who made an effort to get to know “the help.” Mark Foley was one of them. At the end of the page year, he spoke movingly about our class on the House floor. He seemed to have a personal anecdote to share about each and every single page. Foley’s quick smile and easy small talk were disarming, which may be why it took so long for anyone to notice that he was on the prowl.

Early in the page year, Foley started chatting with a few of my classmates on AOL Instant Messenger. AIM was an evolutionary ancestor to the later era of social media and texting, a place where you could instantly talk with friends or strangers while hidden behind a screenname. Like text messages, AIM felt ephemeral—which probably explained its appeal to Foley. But unbeknownst to most users, the program automatically logged full transcripts of every conversation. It had a permanent memory. If you ended a conversation, a verbatim copy of it would, by default, be saved on your computer.

Full piece here.

[Last modified: Friday, November 20, 2015 10:18am]

    

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