Congressman Steve King is rejecting the idea that Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert should resign for failing to intercept the sexually-explicit “instant messages” a Republican congressman from Florida sent a teenager who used to work as a House page. “The Speaker only knew that there had been an email exchange with a former page that essentially said, let’s see, ‘How old are you and would you send me a picture?'” King says. “Now that to me is not a code word for a pedaphillac predator.”
Florida Congressman Mark Foley abruptly resigned Friday after instant messages he had sent a former House page were made public and King, a Republican from Kiron in western Iowa, sees nothing wrong with the Speaker’s actions on the matter. “Denny Hastert spoke up and renounced it and said ‘I would have asked for (Foley’s) expulsion if I would have seen those instant messages or even known that they existed.’ He did not. None of the leaders did,” King says.
King says none of the Republican leaders in the House knew of the “vile” instant messages Foley was sending. “We’re really Monday morning quarterbacking this,” King says.
The Washington Times today ran an editorial saying Hastert had “forfeited the confidence of the public and his party” and should resign because of the scandal. King says he’s “taken aback” by the media attention to the incident and King believes the “fallout” from this story may cost Republicans control of the U.S. House. “If this national news media feeding frenzy, this hyperventilation, is continued between now and November 7th, then I think that the majority’s probably going to be in more risk than it probably was a week ago,” King says.
King questions why ABC News waited so long to report the story if they were given copies of those “vile” instant messages in August. King also says that if he had been in Speaker Hastert’s shoes, he wouldn’t have seen a “red flag” in that original email in which the congressman asked the teenager how old he was and if he’d send him a picture. “I actually don’t see that there was anything illegal. It was a little creepy,” King says. “It’s hard to point the finger at the language that’s there and make something out of it, even in retrospect.”
King faces Democrat Joyce Schulte of Creston on the November 7th ballot.