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October 28, 2006

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interesting

Van Der Meid is definitely the fall guy

jwp

I'm not so sure. I think he's the guilty party, but he tried to discredit Trandahl on Wednesday, and when Trandahl heard that, he started unpacking a big suitcase full of scandal from his time as Clerk.

Van Der Meidhas been fingered for some time, with other staffers giving him the portfolio. He won't go quietly. I don't think any of them will.

My company is very very adamant about posting on boards/blogs/emails using their computers/servers, or their network, or their time. They also don't want anything coming back to them if for some reason they are exaimined or audited.

That is one reason, I used a $7/month ISP and a $25/year anon/secure service, and my own personal little notebook. Their machines never see my love notes...

As far as time is concerned. I like to ask. Which forty hours a week are you talking about, el Chiefo?

:)

Oh, yes, I forgot.

I see the next book coming from emptywheel, el supremo investigator.

:)

emptywheel, very sorry to hear about your Mom's Parkinson's.
Wrt Foley, imo Hastert, Boehner, Reynolds, Shimkus, ... have been running the Roman Catholic hierarchy, "we didn't know," playbook since this broke. Where, minors were involved, the RC hierarchy in almost all cases, I am aware of, was able to render the situation into a social environment, thereby avoiding sexual harrassment law. Hastert, Boehner, Reynolds, Shimkus, .... have waltzed into what they think is a safe haven of ignorance. I'm not sure the Federal laws against sexual harrassment in the workplace will agree. Wrt sexual harrassment, the im's themselves become evidence of a "hostile environment." How's a page supposed to ignore an im from a supervisor?

Hastert, Boehner, Reynolds, Shimkus.... failed to investigate, obvious evidence of sexual harrassment. They admit they didn't know about Foley's attempts to skirt the letter of the law and worst of all they didn't document anything. It was their job as Foley's "supervisor," to drill down when they first received complaints. It was their job to put a copy of the complaint in Foley's file.

I wish the TM would jump on the sexual harrassment angle, because, I think it could still help in those House races.

I take it you don't subscribe to Wayne Madsen's maximalist speculation on the page scandal, but I think this whole cast of characters is implicated to different degrees. This includes Trandahl, although you make a persuasive case that he started the chain of events for some reason. The NYT profile is weird - particularly the quote from Frattali who, incidentally, was fired by Trandahl for covering up page absences from study hall and had bad things to say about him on the web. The money/gold nickname thing made no sense - Aspens, anyone?. Also Schniderman's cryptic comment about how complicated the situation was is tantalizing - Food and Friends is an apparently chic and well-heeled AIDS charity with many of these guys on its supporters and donors lists. Looks to me like Trandahl, who according to some accounts, did "disappear in a puff of smoke" from the clerkship (in spite of the clearly suspect line about bipartisan testimonials that the NYT was careful to include) was simply the nimblest rat off the sinking ship... or the tip of the iceberg... Oh yeah, and getting a commercial driver's license to take care of the pages on September 11th, what the heck???

pg

You may well be right--you've obviously got the personalities on this sussed out.

Though the question remains--how did the emails get liberated from the House? Someone--someone from within the GOP--had to have taken those and handed them onto someone who was, at the least, careless with them. Maybe it's not Trandahl, but if not, then who?

You, emptywheel, are one fine sleuth - in the Aurthur Conan Doyle tradition. What piece would stitch this all together? move it from the realm of speculation to the field of play? Certainly, every time we hear Van Der Meid's name, it is in the context of some dark deed; and John Scofield sounds none too forthcoming, disavowing various explanations without offering plausible alternatives. Has Sherlock Holmes' archrival, Moriarity, escaped once more only to resurface in the halls of the American Congress?

We will certainly stay tuned...

one piece of the puzzle that no one has mentioned...

To me, the BIG question is "why is Jeff Trandahl still on the Board of the HRC? That's right....after leaving the Clerkship, Trandahl joined the Board of Directors the Human Rights Campaign. In other words, the guy who is at the center of the Foley cover-up is on the BOARD of the organization that fired a "Junior Staffer" for stopping a sexual predator.

In his original posting, the staffer said that the emails were sent to HIM. Now, he's been fired for "misusing the group's resources". Now, as far as anyone knows, the StopSexualPredators website was not affiliated with the HRC... so what does "misusing the group's resources" mean?

My theory -- the staffer got the email at his HRC email address.....and brought it to people's attention. Someone remembered that Trandahl used to be the Clerk of the House, and in charge of the page program, and ran it past him.... and Trandahl told them it was "no big deal, it had been handled", etc. That, to me, is the only theory that makes sense, because Trandahl is still on the HRC board.

There is NO question that Trandahl was Foley's chief enabler. He'd been covering for Foley for years -- mostly, he went through Kirk Fordham who was Foley's Chief of Staff. When Alexander's people went to Hastert's office, they were directed to Van Der Meid....who directed them to Trandahl. Because Fordham was no longer with Foley, Trandahl goes to Shimkus -- who, according to BlogActive -- has a gay cheif of staff as well.

It makes no sense at all that Trandahl left because of the Foley email; Trandahl did what he always did -- found a way to cover it up. (If Trandahl had done the right thing, and reported Foley to the House Ethics Committee, I could see there being a connection between the Foley emails and Trandahl's resignation.)

Given the centrality of Trandahl's role as Foley's chief enabler, it makes no sense that the HRC would leave him on their board --- and fire a junior staffer for stopping a sexual predator. UNLESS, that is, the HRC was involved in the cover-up of Foley, thanks again to Trandahl's involvement. (I've called the HRC repeatedly to ask about Trandahl, and get promises of call-backs, and no one ever calls back.)

Its also highly unlikely that Trandahl was the person who was distributing the emails far and wide. The most likely person would be the Alexander staff person who was first in touch with the kid that got the emails.... she's resign a while back as well. SHE was the person who recognized what these emails represented --- and SHE was likely the person who got Alexander to go see Reynolds AFTER Alexander had been assured that Foley was just being "overly friendly." She understood the signs of a sexual predator --- all the other staffers involved had known for a while about Foley and the pages -- SHE was the one that it was news to, and the likeliest candidate who had access to the emails to have sent them around when nothing was done to stop Foley.

This is not nearly as interesting as the Plame case

That said, I don't think there is much to the Foley-Page affair that isn't already known. Granted there are probably a lot more IMs out there if you like to look at sick stuff.

But as far as the House is concerned I don't think much of import is left unexposed.

There is one thing that does puzzle me. However I don't expect that anyone here will pursue it.

All anyone that knew about the problems had to do was to slide a bit of information over to the Democratic side, and they would be sure to "expose" it.

Or is that what happened. Did they know about it and then "wait" until right before the elections?

Or is that what happened. Did they know about it and then "wait" until right before the elections?

since when did Trolls stop naming their children stuff like Rumplestiltskin and start naming them Jodi?

Thanks pluk at 21:04, great comment as per usual. Up until I read your comment, I thought Trandahl was one of the good guys. Your analysis, however, fits far better with the facts.

"Or is that what happened. Did they know about it and then "wait" until right before the elections?"

You seem nervous and overly sensitive about that question, p.lukasiak. Even enough to call people names!

Do you know something you don't want to share?

:)

Jodi

Please, we put up with a lot from you, but don't be asking other commenters when they stopped beating their dog.

Well, if we are to follow the proceedure route that was eventually imposed on the Roman Catholic Bishops, and if we are to offer Speaker Pelosi some advance advice, there are a whole host of "bad practices" illustrated here that had to be wrung out of the Roman Catholic Hierarchy over the past several years.

First -- Pelosi needs to make a rule that all House Members are "mandated Reporters" on both Sexual Harassment and any sort of "hitting on kids".

Second -- this is not -- NOT -- an Ethics violation, it can be a criminal offense, and the proper party to decide that is a Prosecutor who assesses the fruit of an impartial investigation. I rather doubt whether the Capital Police have a special Sexual Abuse investigative division, but I suspect for this specialized kind of investigation they would depend on the DC Police Department. Pelosi needs to either establish such a speciality inside the Capital Police, or make clear that the place to report any crediable evidence of abuse is the Special Child and Adult abuse protection divisions at the DC Police. She should make it clear all members and staff will be subject to the same rules.

If a mandated reporter wishes to make the party leaders knowledgeable that a report has been filed -- that is their decision. The key to the mandated reporter rule is that these special divisions are able to conduct quite fair yet confidential investigations, and if there is nothing to the report -- the files get sealed away. On the otherhand, the mandated reporter rule allows for the victim and the accused violator to be on the same level during the investigation. In house reviews always overvalue the reputations and careers of their own members (Ethics Committees probably would pay little head to a complaining page, even if the page could get standing to complain), just as a Bishop was always more sympathetic with Father "Ryan" and his "little problems" than he was with little Johnnie Jones from some less than elite Parish.

But it was a massive effort on the part of the Child Abuse Professionals and groups such as SNAP, the abuse survivors network, to get the Bishops to comprehend the difference between a sin and a crime, and to recognize that the process had to equally value both the complaining victim and the accused perp. Substitute Party Leaders for Bishop here, and Political Problem for sin -- and you have exactly the same set of relationships.

And you know who could help Pelosi figure out the rules -- Leon Panetta, who served on the Bishop's Commission to study all this, and who eventually helped write the new rules -- rules that stand very much against Canon Law. Robert Bennett also served on that Commission, and I suspect would also have the expertise now to fashion rules.

One thing I have noted since this all began is the near total failure of many of these lawmakers -- both parties -- to comprehend proceedure, in fact proceedure they themselves at times participated in legislating. All this dither about calling in the FBI to investigate -- look, Child Abuse, sexual or otherwise, is covered by state law -- not Federal Law. The only time the FBI has primary jurisdiction is when the victim is taken across state lines. The FBI can be called upon by a local prosecutor for internet crimes, but that is at the command of a local prosecutor or local or state investigators who ask for technical assistance. Congress, as Newt Gingrich used to say, should be subject to the same rules as everyone else -- and Pelosi could hit a home run in that first hundred hours with a very clear rule and process about all this. If she needs "experts" standing with her, Minnesota is about to offer Senator Klobuchar who has prosecuted Priests and many others, (and sent them to the Big House), -- and Rep. Patty Wetterling, who has had more to do with advocating the "best practices" proceedures than almost anyone else in the country. Pelosi would be very smart to start out by kicking this thing to the right law enforcement agency, and totally remove it from the Ethics Committee which should be focused on the questions of where the bright line is between members and lobbyists and all sorts of other external organizations that can become party to politically corrupt practices.

Second -- this is not -- NOT -- an Ethics violation, it can be a criminal offense, and the proper party to decide that is a Prosecutor who assesses the fruit of an impartial investigation. I rather doubt whether the Capital Police have a special Sexual Abuse investigative division, but I suspect for this specialized kind of investigation they would depend on the DC Police Department.

Sara, you seem to think that the House Ethics Committee doesn't investigate criminal conduct by its members -- that it just refers it to the Justice Department. You're wrong.

The actual name of the committee is "Committee on Standards of Official Conduct", and what was known about Foley's actions while clearly an abuse of the power of his office, a no point was there much more than a hint of "criminal" conduct. Foley's inappropriate attention should have been referred to the Ethics committee when it was brought to the attention of people like Trandahl, Hastert, Boehert, Reynolds, and Shimkus -- instead it was swept under the rug.

p. lukasiak,

Rumpelstiltskin was a dwarf, not a troll. However, since the name means something like "little rattling goblin", a harmless but annoying creature, perhaps it is appropriate in this context. According to Wikipedia, the Celtic version of these creatures (boggarts) should never be named because:
"as when the boggart was given a name, it would not be reasoned with or persuaded and become uncontrollable and destructive".

That sounds like good advice here.

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