Congressman quits after messages to teens found
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Republican Rep. Mark Foley resigned Friday from the House after sexually explicit instant message conversations with teenage congressional pages surfaced.
The instant message conversations were published on ABCNews.com and other Internet blogs.
According to ABCNews.com, someone using the screen name "Maf54," which ABC identified as Foley, communicated with congressional pages.
ABCNews.com posted these instant message exchanges:
Maf54: You in your boxers, too?
Teen: Nope, just got home. I had a college interview that went late.
Maf54: Well, strip down and get relaxed.
ABCNews.com also cited this exchange:
Maf54: What ya wearing?
Teen: tshirt and shorts
Maf54: Love to slip them off of you.
A third example from ABCNews.com:
Maf54: Do I make you a little horny?
Teen: A little.
E-mail exchange questioned
Earlier Friday, a former congressional page questioned e-mails Foley had sent to him, describing it as "sick." Foley, a Florida representative, apparently sent the e-mails in August 2005, when the male page was 16 years old.
In the e-mails, which were obtained by the Washington-based Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Foley discussed a second page, saying "I just emailed [him]... hes such a nice guy... acts much older than his age... hes in great shape... i am just finished riding my bike on a 25 mile journey now heading to the gym... whats school like for you this year?"
Foley then asked the page for a picture.
The young man, who forwarded the e-mails to another congressional staffer, called the e-mails "sick, sick, sick."
"Maybe it is just me being paranoid, but seriously. This freaks me out," the page wrote in the e-mails obtained by CREW.
A spokesman for Foley told CNN the congressman acknowledged he had an e-mail exchange with the former page but flatly denied that it was anything inappropriate.
Florida Republican 'deeply sorry'
In his letter to Florida Gov. Jeb Bush resigning his position, apologized for letting down his family and his constituents.
"Today I have delivered a letter to the speaker of the House informing him of my decision to resign from the U.S. House of Representatives, effective today. I thank the people of Florida's 16th Congressional District for giving me the opportunity to serve them for the last twelve years; it has been an honor," Foley said in a written statement.
"I am deeply sorry and I apologize for letting down my family and the people of Florida I have had the privilege to represent."
Foley was part of the Republican leadership, holding the post of deputy whip. He also chaired the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus and was a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.
Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois said he supported Foley's resignation.
"He's done, as of now; he's done the right thing," Hastert said. "I've asked John Shimkus, who is the head of the Page board, to look into this issue regarding Congressman Foley. We want to make sure that all of our pages are safe, and the page system is safe."
"None of us are very happy about it," Hastert said.
Election foe calls for investigation
According to GOP sources, Foley is concerned there may be other potential politically damaging e-mails or information out there and has concluded it's best not to run again for office.
Foley, who is considered a moderate, has been in office for six-terms.
His Democratic opponent in the race, Tim Mahoney, called Thursday for an investigation into the matter. Mahoney's campaign denied having anything to do with the information becoming public.
Before the questions about the e-mails surfaced, Foley was expected to win re-election in November by a wide margin.
The resignation comes within six weeks of the midterm elections in which control of Congress could come down to a handful of seats. The Democrats need 15 seats to end over a decade of Republican control of the House.
The Foley scandal may re-enforce the already negative opinion the public has of Congress and Washington, which could hurt Republicans this fall.
Florida Republicans could name a replacement candidate for Foley as soon as Monday. Foley's name will appear on the midterm ballots and cannot be changed, but any votes for Foley will count toward the party's choice.