Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Today, Jim Kouri at the Blog Urban Elephants got a link from HuffPo. Despite his claim that the Mark Foley saga demonstrates a "double standard" on the part of Democrats and the news media, he never actually demonstrates the claim.

He writes about the 1983 scandal when Democrat Gerry Studds and Republican Dan Crane were censured for having sex with pages--Studds with a male. Unfortunately for Kouri, he not only fails to make a point, he also gets things just plain wrong. He writes:
During the Studds controversy, the Republican minority in the House fell silent and there were no demands for an FBI criminal investigation or special hearings in congress.
Silent? Um, no. The introduction to the CQ Electronic Library's copy of the "Report of the Special Counsel to the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct into Allegations of Improper or Illegal Sexual Conduct by Members of the House of Representatives" reminds us that
the panel found that Studds in 1973 had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old male page, who might have been 16 at the time the relationship began. In addition, the panel said Studds made sexual advances on two other male pages in 1973.

Crane, the panel said, had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old female page in 1980. Since the legal age of consent in the District of Columbia is 16, the panel accused neither Studds nor Crane with a crime. Nevertheless, the panel felt that any sexual relationship, consensual or not, between a member and a page constituted improper sexual conduct.


In choosing an appropriate penalty for Crane and Studds, Califano cited as precedents the two most recent cases of censure and expulsion. In 1980 the House censured Charles H. Wilson, D-Calif. (1963—81) for bribery. The same year, the House expelled Michael “Ozzie” Myers, D-Pa., (1976—80), who was convicted on Abscam bribery charges. Califano concluded, “Measured against the precedents, neither expulsion nor censure is warranted.” Califano added, though, “The institutional integrity of the House of Representatives requires that the House itself act.” He recommended a reprimand, and the committee agreed by an 11-1 vote. (Wilson censure, Historic Documents of 1980, p. 485; Myers expulsion, p. 899)

But for some members, this was not enough. “I want to change the precedent,” Gingrich said. “The precedent is ridiculous.” He said if Studds or Crane were a teacher or police officer, he would be fired.

Supporting Gingrich, Chalmers P. Wylie, R-Ohio, said July 18 he would support a stiffer penalty unless both members resigned.


“If we do not expel Studds,” Gingrich said July 19, “I would abolish the page system.”
Gingrich couldn't call for an investigation, because while, like the Foley issue, concerns were reported before the relationship which caused the problem, they were reported to fellow pages, who didn't seem to buy it and didn't tell House leadership.

As soon as Speaker Tip O'Neil found out about the issue, however, he leapt to action as special counsel Joseph A. Califano, Jr., recalls in tomorrow's WaPo.
Within a week the House had authorized its ethics committee to conduct a full investigation of allegations of "sexual misconduct, illicit drug distribution and use, and offers of preferential treatment in exchange for sexual favors or drugs by Members, officers or employees of the House." House Speaker O'Neill and Minority Leader Robert Michel asked me to be special counsel to the ethics committee, co-chaired by Ohio Democrat Lou Stokes and South Carolina Republican Floyd Spence. I was allowed to select my own staff and given a commitment that I could follow the evidence wherever it led, because, as O'Neill and Michel said, "The integrity of the House is at stake."
So, if there is a double standard here, it's on the part of Republicans who have decided that a cover-up of crimes which echo non-criminal activity from 20 years ago isn't a big deal.


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