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October 2006 Archives

He's back in the saddle.

((Sweet blog readers.....the comment feature is down again....has been for awhile....it goes on and off....so please keep trying....))

Earlier this month, I got an e-mail from a UN aid worker in Chad who is working with refugees from the Darfur region of Sudan who fled to Chad to escape violence at home. I met Matthew Conway on a visit to a refugee camp along the desolate Chad-Sudan border in early September. The dismal situation is getting worse. ``We regret to report that the security situation throughout eastern Chad remains extremely precarious, forcing (UN workers) and partners to move in escorted convoys to many of the refugee camps,'' Conway wrote.

There is an ad campaign running in the U.S. aimed against President Bush, creating the impression the White House is not doing anything on Darfur. While there is always more that can be done, the Bush White House is engaged in trying to pull together a ``credible'' international force to send to Sudan.

Today, Tuesday, the president met with Andrew Natsios, the former USAID chief he tapped as special envoy to Sudan. It's clear that this is a situation the U.S. alone cannot influence. After the meeting, Bush talked once again about the need to have international partners in order to get a military force in the region. The Sudan government is resisting UN intervention and just kicked out the UN envoy in Khartoum.

``The United States is going to work with the international community to come up with a single plan on how to address this issue and save lives. And Andrew is going to work with other partners in peace, and they'll take that plan to the current government of Sudan,'' Bush said.


By Lynn Sweet
Sun-Times Washington Bureau Chief
WASHINGTON -- Federal and state prosecutors were asked Monday to investigate whether a staffer for U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk violated laws when she tried to get a prominent backer of Kirk's opponent, Democrat Dan Seals, to back down.

The request for a probe was made in letters sent to U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and Cook County State's Attorney Richard Devine by Abner Mikva. As a Democrat, Mikva once represented the 10th Congressional District in the north suburbs -- where Kirk serves -- and is a former White House counsel and federal judge.

First Lady Laura Bush, on a campaign swing this week, touches down in Schaumburg this Thursday. (note to White House—that is burg, not berg, as written on her sked).

UPDATE On Wednesday, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) host a get-out-the-vote rally at DePaul U's Lincoln Park campus, 2 p.m. at the student center, 2250 N. Sheffield.


Give House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) the chance to speak his mind about House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and he'll take it, just as he did Sunday night during an interview with Fox's Sean Hannity. He reaffirmed his prediction the GOP will retain the House. However, he would not predict that he will be elected speaker again. Hastert has been definitive about his desire to stay on as Speaker.

``One election at a time,'' Hastert told Hannity.

Hannity chose not to ask Hastert about his testimony last week before the House ethics committee. Or Hastert's latest thoughts on the impact of the Foley page scandal.

``Working with Nancy, it's been all politics all of the time,'' said Hastert, interviewed from Aurora. Pelosi is likely to be speaker if the Dems win control of the House next week.

Potential Dem presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is on the West Coast portion of his book tour. The publicity over his new book proved so successful he moved up his timetable and put a 2008 White House bid in play. Here's an inside look at how the book tour is helping Obama build a national political infrastructure. Without organization, Obama will not be able to translate his popularity into presidential political primary power.


Republican David McSweeney, challenging Rep. Melissa Bean (D-Ill.), started running a new television ad on Monday evening. It's misleading when it comes to portraying Bean's position on Social Security and a cheap shot when the spot talks about her not protecting "our values."

A spokesman for AARP, David Sloane, said McSweeney "twisted" Bean's response to an AARP election questionnaire and said McSweeney's spot amounted to a "scare tactic." Sloane said the AARP was mailing a letter to all of its members in the north suburban 8th Congressional District --some tens of thousands -- to "make clear" the McSweeney spot was a "mischaracterization."

BY LYNN SWEET Sun-Times Washington Bureau Chief
WASHINGTON -- A staffer for Rep. Mark Steven Kirk (R-Ill.), in a threatening e-mail, tried to get the president of Tel Aviv University to pressure a prominent supporter of Democrat Dan Seals to back down.

The target of a July e-mail by Kirk district representative Caryn Garber was insurance magnate Robert M. Schrayer, who is the national chairman of the Tel Aviv University American Council and on the board of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.

see earlier post (two below) for background.....

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) spent only a few hours before the House ethics panel on Tuesday, telling under oath what he knew when about the Mark Foley page scandal. Deputy chief of staff Mike Stokke is testifying Tuesday afternoon.

Emerging from the committees offices in the basement of the Capitol, Hastert called for a swift completion of the inquiry and said he answered all questions.

He called on the panel to determine ``who knew about the sexually explicit messages and when when they knew about it.''

Sean Hannity talked to Vice President Cheney this morning at the White House for his radio show--and asked him about Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) who on Sunday said he was mulling a 2008 White House run. That sets Obama up on a potential collision course with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), who is also looking at 2008.

Cheney said Clinton could win. Obama is an ``attractive candidate,'' but `` people might want a little more experience,'' the vice president said.

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) is testifying today before the House ethics committee, charged with trying to determine who knew what when in the Mark Foley page scandal. This blog broke the news on Sunday night that Hasterts' staffers and perhaps Hastert himself would be testifying this week.

At issue for Hastert are several questions:

Obama by the numbers: Road trips.

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Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has cranked up his domestic travel schedule since his Aug. 18-Sept. 3 Africa trip, with constant travel since his return. He's been out stumping for Democratic candidates--selling his new book--and now, himself as a potential 2008 White House candidate.

Number of states visited since becoming a senator in January, 2005: 30
Number of states visited in the past 30 days: 18

(some states more than once)

I wrote this blog item on Aug. 21, after Sen. Barack Obama, in South Africa, flinched when former Archbishop Desmond Tutu talked him up for president of the United States.
Obama, now open to a 2008 White House run, is not flinching anymore.
--Lynn Sweet

original headline Tutu: Touts Obama for president
Former Archbishop Desmond Tutu just met with Sen. Barack Obama at his office in a drab office mall outside of Cape Town.

He volunteered that Obama would make a good president.

Obama's camp has given up dousing talk of a White House run.

Tutu bringing up Obama's future was extremely off message.

"You are going to be a very credible presidential candidate," the impish Tutu cackled.

Obama flinched. "Oh no, don't do that."
"Fortunately, because he has my complexion, we can't see that he is blushing," Tutu said.

As the two headed to a private meeting, Tutu was asked why he was high on Obama's prospects.

"People are looking for leaders of whom they could be proud."


Posted by admin on August 21, 2006 04:31 PM

A potential central figure in the Mark Foley scandal, Scott Palmer, chief of staff for House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and his attorney entered the closed doors of the House ethics committee in the basement of the Capitol near 2 p.m. eastern time on Monday to testify. Hastert is also expected to talk to the investigative panel--and it could be as early as Tuesday.

Palmer's lawyer is Scott L. Fredericksen, a partner with Foley & Lardner who specializes in white collar defense. Palmer has barely been heard from--only to issue a terse statement of denial after former Foley chief of staff Krik Fordham said Palmer and others close to Hastert knew the Florida lawmaker had a problem with pages years before it surfaced in November, 2005.

Obama in '08? He's thinking about it\
October 23, 2006

BY LYNN SWEET Sun-Times Columnist
A few days ago, Sen. Barack Obama seemed to promise Oprah she would get the news first, as if a decision to make a run for president comes all at once. It does not.

It actually is an incremental process and on NBC's "Meet the Press," Obama said Sunday he is mulling a 2008 presidential run.

Obama told Tim Russert that he had "thought about the possibility'' of a 2008 bid. Obama walked away from the flat denial of interest in being on the 2008 ticket that he had made on the same show on Jan. 22.

Media Idolizing Obama?

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The softball treatment the press has given Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) was the topic on Sunday's edition of ``Reliable Sources'' on CNN hosted by Howard Kurtz.

In Washington, your Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet and Clarence Page of the Trib commented on the Obama treatment.

Kurtz sets up the discussion thus: "Does the senator walk on water, or have the media gone off the deep end?"

Clarence and I were billed as "Veteran Chicago reporters on the media's amazing swoon over Senator Barack Obama."

The House ethics committee investigation of the House page program--in the wake of the Mark Foley page sex scandal--this week is poised to hear testimony from key staffers of House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and perhaps the speaker himself.

The testimony is crucial in determining if the speaker's team first learned of Foley's ``overly friendly'' overtures to pages in November, 2005--as the speaker claims--or years earlier, as a former Foley chief of staff claimed. A special investigative subcommittee of the panel, officially named the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct started work on Oct. 4.
Key Hastert staffers: Chief of Staff Scott Palmer; Deputy Chief of Staff Mike Stokke and Ted Van Der Meid, chief in-house counsel.

In a reversal, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said Sunday he would be open to a 2008 White House bid--a little more than nine months after he ruled out running for president being on the ticket in the next cycle.

Obama told Tim Russert on NBC's ``Meet the Press'' that he ``thought about the possibility'' of running for president and indicated he did not seem bound by a pledge made on that same show two years ago that he would serve out his six-year term. Obama made the statement after Russert showed him the videotape of the comments he made on the show last January--ruling out a 2008 bid.

It's the furthest Obama has gone in the scores of print and television interviews he is giving in order to hype his new book, published last week. The publicity blitz is orchestrated around the launch of ``The Audacity of Hope'' which is turning into a sort run-up to test the waters for an Obama White House bid.

Meanwhile, on ABC's ``This Week'' host George Stephanopoulos reminded Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee--who is looking to run again in 2008-- that he gave Obama a big break when he asked him to be a keynote speaker at his convention.

`` I'm glad I did. I think my confidence in him has been obviously ratified. I like what he's doing,'' Kerry said.
Asked about the idea of Obama running against him, Kerry said, `` Whatever he wants to do. Look, this is a free country.''
He added, ``I think he's a very interesting and very powerful communicator with a great deal of skill. I wouldn't have picked him if he didn't. And I'm really pleased to see the way in which the country is ratifying my judgment on that. ''

from Meet the Press
MR. RUSSERT: Well, nine months ago, you were on this program and I asked you about running for
president. And let's watch and come back and talk about it.
(Videotape, January 22, 2006):
MR. RUSSERT: When we talked back in November of '04, after your election, I said, "There's been
enormous speculation about your political future. Will you serve your full six-year term as a United States
senator from Illinois?" Obama: "Absolutely."
SEN. OBAMA: I will serve out my full six-year term. You know, Tim, if you get asked enough, sooner
or later you get weary and you start looking for new ways of saying things, but my thinking has not
changed.
MR. RUSSERT: But, but--so you will not run for president or vice president in 2008?
SEN. OBAMA: I will not.
(End videotape)
MR. RUSSERT: You will not.
SEN. OBAMA: Well, the--that was how I was thinking at that time. And, and, you know, I don't want
to be coy about this, given the responses that I've been getting over the last several months, I have
thought about the possibility. But I have not thought it--about it with the seriousness and depth that I think
is required. My main focus right now is in the '06 and making sure that we retake the Congress. After
oh--after November 7, I'll sit down and, and consider, and if at some point, I change my mind, I will
make a public announcement and everybody will be able to go at me.
MR. RUSSERT: But it's fair to say you're thinking about running for president in 2008?
SEN. OBAMA: It's fair, yes.
MR. RUSSERT: And so when you said to me in January, "I will not," that statement is no longer
operative.
SEN. OBAMA: The--I would say that I am still at the point where I have not made a decision to, to
pursue higher office, but it is true that I have thought about it over the last several months.
MR. RUSSERT: So, it sounds as if the door has opened a bit.
SEN. OBAMA: A bit.

The House Democratic political operation is banning the press from covering Pres. Clinton's Chicago visit on Monday. He's the headline guest at an event designed to raise mega-money for Illinois House candidates in two of the biggest races in the country, Democrats Tammy Duckworth and Rep. Melissa Bean.

I was told the press would be barred from reporting by three sources: Sarah Hamilton, a spokesman for The Clinton Foundation and staffers from the two House campaigns. ``Closed'' was the word Hamilton used. Clinton will also be the draw at some Chicago engagements he will be paid for.

I was told the no-press rule was the order sent from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, chaired by Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) to the Bean and Duckworth staffers. The Bean and Duckworth campaigns are working to have that ruling changed.




Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on his book tour talked to the Today Show this morning. Host Meredith Vieira tees up the will he run for president question.

Obama: Riding the wave

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Monday night, on the eve of his book tour, Sen. Barack Obama was feted by some of his closest friends and supporters.

Just a few blocks from his own house, the reception was at the Kenwood home of Barbara and Jim Bowman, the parents of Valerie Jarrett, who until recently was the treasurer of HOPEFUND, Obama's national political action committee.

The guests -- people who were there at the beginning of his 2004 Senate bid and some of his best donors, even comedian Bernie Mack -- were given copies of The Audacity of Hope that Obama already autographed.

The invitation was sent out on behalf of Obama 2010, the war chest for Obama's Senate re-election campaign -- presuming, that is, if he is not elected president or vice president in 2008, a prospect that was the buzz at the party and increasingly in political circles.

Will this end the controversy over how the U.S. treats suspected terrorists? The new law President Bush signed Tuesday authorizes military tribunals for accused terrorists. The White House was billing this as a ``historic day.''


Said Bush, ``This bill spells out specific, recognizable offenses that would be considered crimes in the handling of detainees so that our men and women who question captured terrorists can perform their duties to the fullest extent of the law. And this bill complies with both the spirit and the letter of our international obligations. As I've said before, the United States does not torture. It's against our laws and it's against our values. ''

Just a few blocks from his home in Chicago, Sen. Barack Obama will trigger a highly orchestrated publicity engine for his new book Tuesday at the venerable 57th Street Books in Hyde Park.

By Lynn Sweet
Sun-Times Washington Bureau Chief

WASHINGTON — “Some of you cringe when I talk about politics,��? said Barbra Streisand, offering a little patter — scripted, it turns out — between songs and some shtick with a George Bush impersonator.

Cringe? Not this adoring crowd.

Not Madeleine Albright, sitting front row center. The former secretary of state has been a Streisand pal since 1993, when the world’s top-selling female artist turned up at an Albright speech. Albright looked like she was having a grand time.

Just a few blocks from his home in Chicago, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) starts the publicity machine for his second book Tuesday morning at the venerable 57th St. Books, in the city's Hyde Park community near the University of Chicago.
The hype includes an Oprah show (Oprah is touting Obama for president. Obama is selling his book. Oprah is a major force in book selling) and a book tour starting in Chicago and ending in Milwaukee on Oct. 31 with runs across the country in between.

Overlaying the book blitz for Obama will also be a schedule of political appearences--fundraising for Democratic candidates and rallying the troops as it gets closer to the Nov. 7 elections.

SUNDAY UPDATE: The hype over the book triggers more hype about Obama's presidential ambition. It's a political symbiotic perfect storm. As part of the public relations roll-out, Obama's team made a deal for Time Magazine to run excerpts. He's on the cover with the headline ``The Next President,'' and a column by Joe Klein. Klein asks Obama about his presidential ambitions.

``Obama replies that after November, I will think about how I can be most useful to the country and how I can reconcile that with being a good dad and a good husband," he says carefully, and then adds, "I haven't completely decided or unraveled that puzzle yet."

Which is even closer to a yes—or, perhaps, it's just a clever strategy to gin up some publicity at the launch of his book tour.''

Durbin on Muhammad Yunus

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Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) has worked on micro-lending projects with the new Nobel prize winner, Dr. Muhammad Yunus.

click for Durbin statement

Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), the chairman of the House page board, testifed for some three-and-and hours on Friday before the House ethics committee investigating the Mark Foley cyberspace page sex scandal. Shimkus flew back to Washington from his Collinsville home on Thursday.

Shimkus was accompanied by his Washington D.C.-based attorney, Barry Pollock with the firm Kelley Drye & Warren LLP. First soundings indicate Shimkus might not have said much beyond what he has talked about in a variety of media interviews. As of Friday afternoon, there are no plans for Shimkus to return to the committee.

Shimkus played a limited, but critical role in the Foley scandal. Last November he went to Foley to tell him to stop contacting a page--and to cut out any contacts with pages. Shimkus never told the Democrat and Republican members of the page board about his Foley intervention.
He has said in media interviews he was clueless that Foley might have had a history of being overly friendly with pages.

click here for Shimkus statement

President Bush, in Chicago to raise money for two GOP House candidates, delivered a strong show of support for embattled House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). Whether Hastert and Bush have any coattails for the contenders whose elections may determine whether the GOP keeps control of the House- remains to be seen.

While Hastert has scratched a full October campaign schedule because of the fallout from the Mark Foley cyberspace page sex scandal--cancelling dates to headline fundraisers for House candidates--and with Bush's own approval ratings low--Bush and Hastert stood together to lend support in the two biggest House races in Illinois.

It's not clear yet if getting such a public boost from Bush and Hastert will yield votes for Republicans Peter Roskam, running against Democrat Tammy Duckworth in the 6th CD or David McSweeney, challenging Rep. Melissa Bean (R-Ill.) in the 8th--or if there will be a backlash from the independents in the suburban districts being courted by all four campaigns. The event raised about $1 million for Roskam and McSweeney campaigns.

Bush singled out one and only one Republican candidate running for one of the seats in the Chicago House districts, all safe Democratic territory. Bush made a surgical insertion when he gave a nod to the unknown Kevin White. White is running against Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) the boss of the Democratic House political operation. Bush's speech comes at a time when, if the election were held today--polls and pundits predict the Democrats would retake the House for the first time since 1994.

Said Bush, ``I wish Kevin White all the very best in his run for the 5th Congressional Delegation. Thanks for coming, Kevin.''

In plugging Hastert, Bush went a step further than he had to go. He called for Hastert to be retained as Speaker if the Republicans hold the House. Hastert himself said he wanted to stay on as speaker in the new Congress even as he is deflecting calls to step down because of the Foley scandal. That Bush called for Hastert to stay on--seems to be a point the Hastert team wanted made--probably to quell dissent in the ranks. Hastert agreed to seek another term and be on the November ballot in part because Bush asked him.

``Speaker Denny Hastert has a long record of accomplishment,'' Bush said. ``You know, he's not one of these Washington politicians who spews a lot of hot air. He just gets the job done. I have worked with him up close. I know what's it like to work with a Speaker who is determined to protect the United States of America, and a Speaker who wants to make sure that everybody who wants a job in America can find one. He has delivered results for the people; this country is better off with Denny Hastert as the Speaker, and it will be better off when he's the Speaker in the next legislative session.''

Meanwhile. just to make life more difficult for Hastert, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) the Democratic 2004 presidential candiate, mounted a fund raising appeal Thursday for Hastert's Democratic rival, former Naval Intelligence Officer John Laesch.

With President Bush in Chicago Thursday to raise money for GOP House candidates Peter Roskam and David McSweeney--appearing with embattled House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.)---Sen. John Kerry used the occasion to fundraise for Hastert's Democratic opponent, John Laesch.

In an e-mail to his potent three-million name list of supporters, Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, taunted the speaker, under fire for being slow to act in the Mark Foley cyberspace page sex scandal.

Laesch, a former Navy intelligence officer, got on Kerry's radar as a result of the Foley fallout. Laesch is a longshot in the heavily GOP district.

Taunted Kerry in his e-mail, `` Too late now, Denny. We've had enough. That's why we've added John Laesch, your Democratic opponent and a former Navy intelligence analyst, to our October slate of veterans running for Congress.


FRIDAY MORNING UPDATE
The tally, as of midnight, was $9,912 from Kerry for Laesch, according to David Lulkin
Fundraiser, John Laesch for Congress.

WASHINGTON -- In his new book, dedicated to his mother and maternal grandmother -- the women "who raised me" -- Sen. Barack Obama accuses fellow Democrats of being "confused" as the Democratic Party "has become the party of reaction."

He also relates how during a meeting with President Bush he found the president seemingly transformed in one sitting as Bush's "easy affability" over a breakfast "was replaced by an almost messianic certainty" as the encounter progressed.

(Oct. 12 update--click below for my column on Obama book first published on Sept. 20--which was a scoop, the FIRST look at Obama's new book--not obtained with any help from his office. The Obama publicity machine gets into higher gear (always on high alert ) when Obama's book tour begins next Tuesday in Chicago. Obama's office and Obama has been cooperating with a string of profile writers from a variety of national outlets all summer in order to hype the book.)


After warm-ups in Wisconsin and Iowa, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow arrives in St. Charles on Saturday to headline a $175-a- person fund-raiser for beleaguered House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert.

"It's sort of Denny Hastert's big deal,'' Snow said.

It's unusual for a presidential spokesman to go out on the stump, but Snow has his campaign calendar filled through the Nov. 7 election. He's got 16 events -- speeches, fund-raisers, drop-bys -- on his schedule and five more in the works.

(click below for items on Tony Snow--a new tv ad by Hastert challenger John Laesch hitting Hastert on Foley--and how Dem House political boss Rahm Emanuel is in a Chicago seat so safe he is not even bothering to run a campaign--while GOP House campaign chief Tom Reynolds is--because of Foley--fighting for his political life in New York.)

Most of President Bush's long Wednesday Rose Garden press conference focused on the threat of North Korea.

On a question about House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) Bush once again gave him a boost....the third since the Mark Foley cyberspace page sex scandal started on Sept. 29.

``Denny is very credible, as far as I am concerned,'' said Bush

Bush flies to Chicago on Thursday to headline a fundraiser--estimated to raise a total of $1 million--to benefit the House races of GOP contenders in the hot Roskam v Duckworth and McSweeney v Bean contests.

Do you think Hastert is credible?

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, with his job on the line because of the spiraling Mark Foley cyberspace page sex scandal, was duped Tuesday into letting a stranger into his Plano home -- a serious security breach.

A casualty of the Mark Foley cyberspace sex scandal is the once-close relationship between Illinois Republicans Rep. John Shimkus and House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert.

If top staffers in Hastert's office had knowledge of Foley's overly friendly interest in pages -- as is alleged by Foley's former chief of staff -- then Shimkus did not know everything he needed to know when he walked into Foley's House office in November 2005 to talk to him about a questionable e-mail from a former page, on a mission that originated in the speaker's office.

Moreover, Hastert's team, by asking Shimkus to appear at a press conference with the speaker in Washington last Monday -- but not letting him take questions -- made a bad situation for Shimkus worse.

"I am now,'' said Shimkus when we talked last week, "a little jaded.''

Each member of the House of Representatives is being asked to contact past and present pages to see if they have had any improper conduct with former Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fl.), the center of a cyberspace sex scandal.

The request is made in an Oct. 6 letter signed by the chairman and ranking Democrat of the House Ethics panel, known officially as the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) and Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.).

Though Hastings and Berman announced last week that they expect to issue some four dozen subpoenas, the letter makes clear they expect House members and staff to come forward with information.

Hastings and Berman wrote, ``The purpose of this letter is to notify all Members that it is the expectation of the Investigative Subcommittee that any Members with information related to the matter under investigation will bring such information to the attention of the Investigative Subcommittee. Such information should include, but not be limited to, any information related in any way to communications or interactions between former Representative Mark Foley and any current or former participants in the House Page Program. In this regard, you should inquire of staff under your supervision as to relevant information in their possession.''


for the entire letter, click here...

On CBS ``Face the Nation'' Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.) says the staff of House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) did him a ``disservice'' on how they handled what they knew about Mark Foley.

CBS' BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, but--I mean, should the speaker then get rid of some of
these staffers? I know that the man who was a clerk at the House, he departed
quickly. There's been some rearranging of chairs on the deck there. But
shouldn't the speaker, once he found out about this, have told his staffers,
`How in the world could this have happened and you didn't tell me about it?'
And some of those people still work for him.

Rep. LaHOOD: Well, Bob, I'm sure that he's had a very serious talk with his
top staff people, and I'm sure he's very angry about the fact that they
withheld this information. I'm a former staffer of two members, and if this
would have been disclosed to me as chief of staff to Bob Michael, I would have
taken it to him. And I guarantee you, Michael would have handled it just the
way Hastert would have handled had he known about it. So I hope he's talked
to his staff. He deserves better than that.

for transcript, click below

It was supposed to be a showdown between the GOP House campaign chief, Rep. Tom Reynolds of New York and Dem counterpart Rahm Emanuel of Chicago.

Reynolds, fighting for his poltiical survival, cancelled his booking on ABC News ``This Week with George Stephanopoulos'' and sent in a substitute. Emanuel skillfully dissected Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Fl.), who tried to shift blame to everyone but the Republicans.

click below for transcript

WASHINGTON - Embattled House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert nixed plans to headline a mid-October fund-raiser in New York with Mayor Bloomberg - but will stand with President Bush on Thursday in Chicago.

The Bush White House will lend more support to Hastert when spokesman Tony Snow travels to his northern Illinois district next Saturday to headline the speaker's annual "mega-dinner" fund-raiser.

``As a matter of fact, probably should have been named the Barbara Bush, ''
President Bush said Saturday at the christening ceremony for the newest aircraft carrier in the U.S. fleet.


House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert on Thursday tried and may well have slowed down the waves of criticism being hurled at him personally in the wake of the Mark Foley cyberspace sex scandal.

Hastert, a Plano Republican, confidently said the scandal will not cost him his job -- not now and not later.

Moving to deal with the Mark Foley cyberspace sex scandal, outside his office in Batavia, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) said ``I deeply sorry that this happened'' and said he was taking ultimate responsibility.

He said he was looking for a person of ``high caliber'' to take a look at the page system. A name floated this morning among Republicans that Hastert would tap former FBI director Louis Freeh to lead this effort--did not materialize as of the press conference time.

(Click below for full Hastert statement)

As to his own knowledge of events, ``I don't know who knew what when,'' Hastert said.

He said if the GOP retains the House in November, ``I expect to run for Speaker'' in the new Congress.

Earlier this morning, Hastert, in a statement, announced the creation of an 1-800 page tip line for people to report on the pages or the page program (click below for number and full Hastert statement.)

In Washington, the bi-partisan Ethics panel--long dormant--met this morning and decided to issue up to four dozen subpoenas to get to the bottom of the Foley scandal.

Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.)--named by Hastert to the panel--and the other members said they will let the evidence lead where it may.

Said Biggert: The panel is determined to get to the bottom of ``who knew what, who did it and why.''

Moments after the ethics panel press conference on Capitol Hill was completed, the speakers office issued a press release commending the committee for acting promptly. (click for full statement)


It's not clear yet if House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert will relinquish his gavel in the coming days in the wake of the Mark Foley cyberspace sex scandal.

"Denny is reaching out to everyone he can reach out to,'' his former spokesman, John Feehery, told me on Wednesday. "I just don't know how the story plays out, how much oxygen is out there.''

President Bush gave embattled House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) a vote of support on Tuesday. (click below for transcript.)

Hastert is unlikely to step down just weeks before the November election. The calls are coming from the GOP right. A resignation would send more shockwaves through the rank and file and may not help keep GOP House seats.

Question 1. Should Hastert step down now in the wake of the Foley page sex scandal.

Question 2. If the GOP remains in control of Congress after the November elections--should Hastert remain as Speaker?

GOP conservatives are the strongest critics of how GOP leaders reacted to the initial news of former Rep. Mark Foley's e-mails.

The Washington Times Tuesday editorial for House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) to step down is important because the editorial page is influential among GOP opinion makers. Hastert spokesman Ron Bonjean said Hastert has no intention on vacating the speakership.


GOP leaders are trying to draw attention to the newspapers--including the Miami Herald--tipped off about Foley and did not end up publishing a story. It's a try.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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