Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Betting on Kolbe

AP reports that the House Page Board has discussed allegations against a second lawmaker. Speculation turns to Congressman Jim Kolbe (R-AZ):

Page board said discussed other charges
By LARRY MARGASAK, Associated Press Writer
2 hours, 5 minutes ago

Allegations of improper conduct toward teenage pages that are unrelated to ex-Rep. Mark Foley are under discussion by House overseers of the program, according to a Democratic lawmaker involved in the talks.

Rep. Dale Kildee of Michigan, the only Democrat on the House Page Board, would not say Monday whether the allegations involved Republicans or Democrats, lawmakers or staff members. He said nothing has been proven.

In his unexpected remarks, Kildee — who is unhappy Republicans did not tell him about Foley's improper approaches to male pages — said the page board discussed the new allegations in a conference call Monday.

"It was about other allegations and I'd like to leave it at that," he said. "Let me just say, not about Mr. Foley. It's only been allegations."

If any Republicans are involved, new allegations could further damage the majority party in Congress less than a month before the election. Polls already show the GOP has been damaged by the scandal involving Foley, R-Fla., who sent former male pages too-friendly e-mails and sexually explicit instant messages.

While Kildee did not divulge details, it is known that federal prosecutors in Arizona have opened a preliminary investigation into an unspecified allegation related to a camping trip that Rep. Jim Kolbe (news, bio, voting record), R-Ariz., took with two former pages and others in 1996. Kolbe, the only openly gay Republican in the House, has denied any wrongdoing...

Good old AP! 'If any Republicans are involved, new allegations could further damage the majority party...' Not 'if any Democrats are involved, it could damage the minority party's effort to retake control...'

Well, anyway, Kildee could certainly be referring to Kolbe, because there reportedly are allegations against him:

Arizona lawmaker's '96 trip with ex-pages investigated
Washington Post

WASHINGTON — The U.S. attorney's office in Phoenix has opened a preliminary investigation of a 1996 camping trip that included Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., and two 17-year-old boys who participated in the congressional page program, law enforcement officials said Friday.

One official cautioned that the inquiry was based on allegations from one unidentified source that has not been substantiated. The allegations involve Kolbe's behavior toward one of the ex-pages, the official said.

The trip down the Grand Canyon also included several Kolbe staffers and National Park Service employees, according to NBC News, which first reported the investigation. Kolbe's office said in a statement to NBC that "there is absolutely no basis and no truth" to any allegations of inappropriate behavior.

This said, I really doubt Kolbe has done anything wrong. Having had a fair amount of interaction with him over the years, he is friendly and somewhat physical. He will clap your shoulder, or grab your elbow, or slap you on the knee if he's joking. Everyone who deals with him knows it. But I've never gotten the sense that there was anything more than that. And where Foley was regarded as somewhat creepy, people are comfortable with Kolbe. I've never heard a suggestion of inappropriate behavior from him - certainly not toward pages.

If the Page Board is discussing allegations against him, I bet it amounts to nothing.

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