Congressman Jim Nussle, the Republican candidate for governor, says the top leader in the U.S. House has taken the right steps in dealing with the fall-out from a scandal involving a Republican congressman from Florida.
Some Republicans have called for House Speaker Dennis Hastert to step down, but Nussle says Hastert didn’t know anything about the lurid “instant messages” Congressman Mark Foley sent a former House page and once he found out, Nussle says Hastert has done the right things. “I’m glad that he has taken responsibility for this issue and that the speaker is leading the effort to ensure that the Ethics Committee, which just voted to pursue an investigation — I think all of that is important as we continue to ensure that the pages are safe and that the integrity of that program is certainly there for years to come,” Nussle says.
Hastert said Thursday that he has visited with many of his fellow Republicans in the House, but Nussle says he has not talked with Hastert since the scandal erupted last Friday. “At this point I believe that we need to investigate this further…we need the facts and full disclosure of those facts and situations before we make decisions,” Nussle says.
Nussle says it’s wrong to jump to any conclusions about Hastert and other top Republican leaders in the House until the investigations by the FBI and the House Ethics Committee are complete. “The person who needed to resign here is Mark Foley,” Nussle says. “He has done so. I’m glad of it because he was obviously not the right person to represent Florida in the congress.”
Chet Culver, the Democrat running for governor against Nussle, says after 16 years in congress and several leadership roles, Nussle is part of what Culver calls the “culture of corruption” in D.C. “Jim Nussle needs to come clean with what he knew and when he knew it and whether or not his party is putting politics above what is really important in terms of protecting these kids,” Culver says. “There needs to be accountability and consequences whether it’s in Washington, D.C. or Des Moines, Iowa.”
Culver says Nussle should return campaign contributions he’s received from Hastert and the top Republican leaders in the House who did not stop Foley when warning signs started to emerge. “This is a pattern that we’re seeing,” Culver says. “It’s outrageous. It’s wrong and Jim Nussle needs to come clean.” Nussle issued a statement on Monday, calling Foley’s actions “disgusting and improper” and Nussle said Foley should be prosecuted to the “fullest extent of the law.”