Mark Foley

Mark Foley
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 16th district
In office
January 3, 1995  September 29, 2006
Preceded by Tom Lewis
Succeeded by Tim Mahoney
Personal details
Born Mark Adam Foley
(1954-09-08) September 8, 1954
Newton, Massachusetts
Political party Republican
Domestic partner Layne Nisenbaum (1984–2012, Nisenbaum's death)
Residence West Palm Beach, Florida
Alma mater Palm Beach State College
Occupation Politician
Religion Roman Catholicism

Mark Adam Foley (born September 8, 1954) is a former member of the United States House of Representatives. He served from 1995 until 2006, representing the 16th District of Florida as a member of the Republican Party, before resigning due to scandal. After several years removed from the public eye, Foley resurfaced as a supporter of Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election.[1]

Foley resigned from Congress on September 29, 2006 acting on a request by the Republican leadership after allegations surfaced that he had sent suggestive emails and sexually explicit instant messages[2] to teenage boys who had formerly served and were at that time serving as Congressional pages.[3][4] As a result of the disclosures, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement conducted investigations of the messages to find possible criminal charges.[5] Each ended with no criminal finding. In the case of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the "FDLE conducted as thorough and comprehensive investigation as possible considering Congress and Mr. Foley denied us access to critical data," said FDLE commissioner Gerald Bailey with the closure of the case.[6] The House Ethics Committee also conducted an investigation into the response of the House Republican leadership and their staff to possible earlier warnings of Foley's conduct.[7]

Early career

Foley was born in Newton, Massachusetts, the son of Frances and Edward Joseph Foley, Jr., a teacher and civic activist.[8][9] Foley served in the Florida House of Representatives 1990–1992 and then in the Florida State Senate 1993–1994.[10]

Congressional career

Early House career

Foley was elected to the U.S. House in 1994 with 58 percent of the vote, defeating Democrat John Comerford. He was re-elected in 1996 with 64 percent of the vote against Democrat Jim Stuber and again in 1998 (this time without opposition). He was re-elected in 2000 with 60 percent of the vote against Democrat Jean Elliott Brown and Reform Party candidate John McGuire. Constitution Party candidate Jack McLain was his only opponent in 2002. He was re-elected in 2002 with 79 percent of the vote and in 2004 with 68 percent of the vote.

Foley was a moderate Republican. He spent most of his tenure in Congress as a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. He was also the first public figure to imply that Vice President Al Gore claimed to have invented the Internet. On March 12, 1999 Reuters reported Foley as saying, "The Vice President is mistaken. The only thing he has ever invented is another tax. He did not invent the Internet but he sure did tax it."[11]

In late 2000, Foley played a large role in aiding George W. Bush during the Presidential election recount controversy in Florida.[12]

In 2006, Foley was a member of the Republican House leadership, serving as deputy whip.[13]

Senate campaign

In 2003, Foley was widely considered the Republican front runner for Bob Graham's Senate seat, especially after Graham had announced his retirement. However, longstanding rumors surfaced that Foley was either a homosexual or bisexual and was in a long-term relationship with a homosexual. The story was initially published only in local and gay press;[14][15] then the New Times broke the story in the mainstream press. Other alternative press rivals, including the New York Press,[16] then addressed the topic. Foley held a press conference to denounce the “revolting” rumors and stated that his sexual orientation was unimportant, but did not specifically deny the rumors. A few weeks later, he withdrew his candidacy, saying his father's battle with cancer had caused him to reassess his perspective on life (the seat was later won by Republican Mel Martinez). Foley had raised $3 million in campaign contributions before withdrawing.[17]

Actions in Congress

Legislation regarding pornography and sexual offenses

In the House, Foley was one of the foremost opponents of child pornography. Foley had served as chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children. He introduced a bill, coined the "Child Modeling Exploitation Prevention Act of 2002" to outlaw web sites featuring sexually suggestive images of preteen children, saying that "these websites are nothing more than a fix for pedophiles." As it was written, the bill would have prohibited commercial photography of children and it failed due to the unmanageable burden it would have presented to the legitimate entertainment industry.[18][19] In June 2003 he wrote letters to the governor and attorney general of Florida, asking them to review the legality of a program for teenagers of a Lake Como nudist resort in Land O' Lakes, Florida.[20]

Foley's legislation to change federal sex offender laws was supported by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, America's Most Wanted host John Walsh and a number of victims' rights groups. President Bush signed it into law as part of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006.

Foley also succeeded in getting a law passed that allows volunteer youth-serving organizations like the Boy Scouts of America and Boys and Girls Clubs to have access to FBI fingerprint background checks.

Other social issues

Foley's stances on many social issues differ from his party's leadership. Although a Roman Catholic, Foley is a member of The Republican Majority For Choice.[21] He has, however, advocated alternatives such as adoption and sexual abstinence. He also supports the Patriot Act, the death penalty and strict sentencing for hate crimes.[22] Foley was a member of Christine Todd Whitman's It's My Party Too and the Republican Main Street Partnership. According to the National Journal's calculations, in 2005, Foley's voting record on social policy issues was moderate.[23]

Other domestic issues

Foley helped secure the first-ever financial commitment from Congress for the preservation of Florida's everglades.[24]

Foley helped pass legislation that expedites the deportation of non-violent criminal aliens serving their sentences in federal prisons;[25] and helped eliminate federal prohibitions on notifying a campus community when a student commits a violent crime.[26]

Foley worked to pass legislation to help surviving heirs of Holocaust victims who have been unable to collect on life insurance policies owed to them.[27][28]

Scandal and Resignation

Main article: Mark Foley scandal

On September 28, 2006, ABC News Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross reported that in 2005, Foley had sent email messages from his personal AOL account to a former Congressional page, asking the page to send a photo of himself to Foley, among other things.[29] Foley's office confirmed that Foley had sent the messages but said it has a practice of asking for photos of individuals who may ask for recommendations and that the page had requested a recommendation.

The original news report prompted another page to come forward and on September 29, 2006, ABC News reported that it had seen excerpts of sexually explicit instant messages allegedly sent by Foley.[30] The instant messages made repeated references to sexual organs and acts.

Kirk Fordham, Chief of Staff to Tom Reynolds and former Chief of Staff to Foley, said that he was with Foley on September 29, 2006, when ABC confronted him with the explicit messages before they were publicized.[31] Fordham then visited GOP headquarters to inform Reynolds and Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert; he returned with a one-sentence resignation letter that Foley signed. Hastert and Reynolds let it be known that if Foley didn't resign, he would be expelled from the House. That same day, Foley tendered his resignation to Hastert as well as Florida Governor Jeb Bush.[32][33] Foley said in a 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."[34][35] Once the news report became more widely known, Foley's chances of retaining his seat in Congress were limited. Hastert said in an October 2 press conference that he would have demanded Foley's expulsion from the House had he tried to stay in office.[36] Even if he'd tried to get his seat back, polls showed him losing badly to his Democratic opponent, Tim Mahoney.

More pages came forward, alleging a history of inappropriate conduct by Foley dating back at least 10 years. Foley had been warned about the matter in 2005 by another House Republican and the House Clerk. Through his lawyer, Foley insisted he was not a pedophile and asserted that he had not "had contact" with a minor.[37] This implied that though he did not sexually assault any male interns, he did not explicitly deny sending them solicitous and sexually overt text-messages; thus sidestepping the question of whether he should have apologized (in public or in private) to the interns who had complained about him.

Foley also explained that he had a drinking problem and had made the communications while intoxicated. He checked himself into a rehab clinic on October 2, 2006.[38] His lawyer revealed that Foley was molested by a clergyman when he was between the ages of 13 and 15 adding that "Mark Foley wants you to know he is a gay man."[39] Federal authorities said the explicit messages could result in Foley's prosecution, under some of the same laws he helped to enact.[40]

Foley resigned from the US Congress on Friday, September 29, 2006.[41]

There was widespread criticism of Republican leaders for their response to earlier warnings and inconsistencies in their statements. In particular, many called for Hastert to resign, including some conservative voices such as the editorial page of The Washington Times.[42]

On October 19, 2006 the Sarasota Herald-Tribune stated that a Catholic priest named Anthony Mercieca told the newspaper about an intimate two-year relationship he had with Foley when the congressman was a teenage altar boy living in Lake Worth, Florida.[43] The priest is retired and living in Malta. He acknowledged getting naked in saunas and possible "light touching", but denied contact of a sexual nature.[44]

Florida officials have closed the investigation of Foley, stating they found "insufficient evidence" to file criminal charges, since the page was over the age of 18.[45]

November 2006 election

Shortly after Foley resigned, the Republican Party of Florida named State Representative Joe Negron to run as the Republican replacement candidate to face Mahoney.[46] In accordance with Florida election law, Foley's name remained on the ballot.[47] Votes cast for Foley in the November election counted towards Negron's total.[48] Mahoney called for a full investigation of Foley's actions.[49] Foley's district had been held by Republicans since its creation in 1973 (it was the 10th District until 1983 and the 12th District until 1993.) In an effort to use the scandal to his benefit, Negron used the slogan "Punch Foley for Joe!", instructing voters to "punch" Foley's name on the ballot to chastise him and support Negron.[50][51]

Negron narrowly lost the election to Tim Mahoney. Negron had 47.7 percent and Mahoney had 49.5 percent.[52] The seat fell back into Republican hands in the 111th congress with the election of Tom Rooney.

Post-congressional life

After leaving Congress, Foley entered the real estate business in Palm Beach, Florida.[53] He also came out publicly and was in a relationship with a Palm Beach dermatologist, Layne Nisenbaum, until Nisenbaum's death in 2012.[54] On September 22, 2009, Foley debuted as host in his own radio show, "Foley on Politics," on Seaview AM 960 in North Palm Beach, Florida.[55]

Electoral history

Florida's 16th congressional district: Results 1994–2006[56]
Year Democrat Votes % Republican Votes % Third party Party Votes %
1994 John Comerford 88,653 42% Mark Foley 122,760 58%
1996 Jim Stuber 98,827 36% Mark Foley 175,714 64%
1998 (no candidate) Mark Foley1
2000 Jean Elliott Brown 108,782 37% Mark Foley 176,153 60% John McGuire2 Reform 7,556 3%
2002 (no candidate) Mark Foley 176,171 79% Jack McLain Constitution 47,169 21%
2004 Jeff Fisher 101,247 32% Mark Foley 215,563 68%
2006 Tim Mahoney 115,832 50% Joe Negron3 111,415 48% Emmie Ross None 6,526 3%

1According to Florida law, the names of those with no opposition are not printed on the ballot and no totals need be submitted.
2Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 2000, write-ins received 9 votes.
3Mark Foley's name was the one on the ballot, however, as noted above.

See also


  1. "Disgraced ex-congressman sits behind Trump at rally". CNN.
  2. "Three More Former Pages Accuse Foley of Online Sexual Approaches". ABC News. October 5, 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-05.
  3. "Florida Republican Foley Resigns From U.S. House Seat". Bloomberg L.P. September 29, 2006. Retrieved 2006-09-29.
  4. "Foley's Exchange With Underage Page".
  5. Babington, Charles; Weisman, Jonathan (October 2, 2006). "FBI to Examine Foley's E-Mails". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 12, 2010.
  6. "Foley Investigations Summary, October 2, 2007". 2008-09-19. Retrieved 2011-09-07.
  7. Weisman, Jonathan (2006-10-12). "Hastert Aides Interest Ethics Panel: Staff Members' Knowledge of Foley's Actions With Former Pages in Question". Washington Post. Retrieved 2006-10-12.
  10. Lawrence Kestenbaum. "Database". Retrieved 2013-12-05.
  11. Hotline: "GORE: GOP GUFFAWS OVER HIS CLAIM HE CREATED INTERNET." March 12, 1999. (Subscription only).
  12. "Media's recount in Broward draws ire of Republicans".
  13. Smith, R. Jeffrey (October 1, 2006). "Foley Built Career as Protector of Children". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 5, 2012.
  14. "Being gay in the GOP: Congressman Mark Foley: A model of political hypocrisy and personal cowardice", Boston Phoenix, May 30, 2003
  15. Mark Meenan, “Is He Gay or Not? U.S. Rep. Mark Foley calls press to say he won't talk about his sexual preference”, Gay City News, May 30, 2003.
  16. Michelangelo Signorile, “Liberace Candidate: Mark Foley’s glass closet”, New York Press, May 28, 2003.
  17. 2004 “Outed Hill staffer condemns campaign: Mikulski and Foley become newest congressional targets as FMA vote nears”, Washington Blade (District of Columbia), July 9, 2004.
  18. Declan McCullagh, "Too Broad a Ban on Child Models?", Wired, May 9, 2002.
  19. Thorne, Samuel (Summer 2004). "Webe Web Fashion Models (A Cultural Analysis of Preteen Models at CSM Child Super Models)". CR Retrieved 2006-10-02.
  20. James Thorner, "Nude summer youth camps alarm lawmaker", St. Petersburg Times (Florida), June 19, 2003.
  21. "About Us". GopChoice. Retrieved 2006-09-29.
  22. "Foley, Mark". Retrieved 2006-10-04.
  23. "National Journal – Liberal on Social Policy".
  24. "Arthur R. Marshall Foundation – board of directors". Archived from the original on 2007-05-15. Retrieved 2006-10-03.
  25. "THOMAS (Library of Congress – H.R.668 (H.AMDT.142))". Retrieved 2006-10-04.
  26. "THOMAS (Library of Congress – H.AMDT.603 amending H.R. 6)". Retrieved 2006-10-04.
  27. "Congress Introduces Legislation To Address Unresolved Holocaust-Era Insurance Claims". United Jewish Communities. Retrieved 2006-09-29.
  28. "Banking committee passes foley amendment to help holocaust victims recover losses". Congressman Mark Foley. 1998-06-04. Archived from the original on 2006-09-27. Retrieved 2006-09-29.
  29. "Sixteen-Year-Old Who Worked as Capitol Hill Page Concerned About E-mail Exchange with Congressman". ABC News. September 28, 2006. Retrieved 2006-09-28.
  30. Ross, Brian; Sauer, Maddy (2006-09-29). "Foley To Resign Over Sexually Explicit Messages to Minors". ABC News The Blotter. Retrieved 2006-09-29.
  31. Wallsten, Peter; Hamburger, Tom (2006-10-07). "Onetime Loyal Aide Now Stands to Undermine GOP". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 5, 2012.
  32. "How Foley Scandal Could Cost Bush Congress". Newsweek. October 9, 2006.
  33. "Congressman resigns after e-mails questioned" Archived October 4, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  34. "Florida congressman quits following disclosure of e-mails to male page". USA Today. September 29, 2006.
  35. "Statement from Mark Foley" (PDF). ABC News. Retrieved 2013-12-05.
  36. "Comments from Speaker Dennis Hastert on Congressman Mark Foley Matter". The Washington Post. Office of the Speaker of the House. October 2, 2006. Retrieved May 12, 2010.
  37. Tuller, David (4 October 2006). "What To Call Foley". Slate. Retrieved 6 May 2015. 'Any suggestion that Mark Foley is a pedophile is false,' the former congressman's lawyer, David Roth, said Tuesday at a news conference in West Palm Beach, Fla.
  38. "Sixteen-Year-Old Who Worked as Capitol Hill Page Concerned About E-mail Exchange with Congressman". Associated Press. 2006-09-29. Archived from the original on 2006-10-21. Retrieved 2006-09-28.
  39. "Foley lawyer makes statement". CNN. October 2, 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-04.
  40. Ross, Brian; Rhonda Schwartz; Maddy Sauer (September 29, 2006). "Exclusive: The Sexually Explicit Internet Messages That Led to Fla. Rep. Foley's Resignation".
  41., Congressman quits after messages to teens found by CNN's Dana Bash, CNN Washington Bureau, September 30, 2006,
  42. "Resign, Mr. Speaker". The Washington Times. 2006-10-03. Retrieved 2006-10-10.
  43. "Priest tells of Foley relationship". October 19, 2006.
  44. "Retired Priest Admits Encounters With Foley", The Washington Post, October 20, 2006.
  45. Chicago Tribune, September 20, 2008 Section 1, page 4, 'Nation Briefing'.
  46. Caputo, Marc and Long, Phil, "GOP taps Negron to run for Foley's seat". Miami Herald. October 2, 2006.
  47. "Democrat Tim Mahoney wins race to replace Mark Foley". USA Today. 2006-11-08. Retrieved 2015-02-12.
  48. “Florida Republican Foley resigns from U.S. House Seat”, Bloomberg, September 29, 2006.
  49. Smith, Adam (September 28, 2006). "Candidate wants investigation in e-mail exchange". St Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2006-09-28.
  50. "Florida's 16th District: Tim Mahoney (D)".
  51. "November 7, 2006 Washington Monthly Election Day Blog".
  52. "Florida Department of State – Election Results". Retrieved 2013-12-05.
  53. Walter, Vic and Krista Kjellman. "Speaker Pelosi Won't Help Foley Investigators", ABC News, 16 January 2008.
  54. Bendery, Jennifer (March 23, 2012). "Mark Foley's Longtime Partner Dies: Report". Huffington Post. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
  55. Down-and-Out Ex-D.C. Figures Find Second Life on Talk Radio Fox News, Monday, September 21, 2009.
  56. "Election Statistics". Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Retrieved 2007-08-08.
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Tom Lewis
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 16th congressional district

1995 – 2006
Succeeded by
Tim Mahoney
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