Statement of Senator Joe Lieberman on Mark Foley Scandal

Senator Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, released the following statement today on reports of a potential cover up by House leadership of Congressman Foley’s indefensible behavior:

”I am outraged by the revelations about Congressman Foley’s behavior. We in Congress are personally responsible for the well-being of the minors in the page program, and for a Member to prey on them is absolutely reprehensible, one of the worst violations of the public trust imaginable.

I am also deeply disturbed by the reports out today suggesting that the House leadership ignored or possibly covered up Congressman Foley’s indefensible behavior. These reports demand a full, independent investigation to determine exactly how the House leadership responded to the concerns that were raised about Congressman Foley’s contacts with young pages.

If it is found that anyone in the House, whether a leader or a Member, contributed to this disgraceful and immoral exploitation of a minor in the page program, then they should be held fully accountable.

Either way, this awful incident points out a major flaw in our ethics system — there is in fact no independent body in Congress to investigate allegations of ethical misconduct by Members and to eliminate the inherent conflict of interest in cases like this.

That is why I have proposed setting up an Office of Public Integrity that would have the power to launch its own investigations and would have a full-time executive director with subpoena powers and an investigative staff.

Earlier this year, I worked with Senators Susan Collins, John McCain and Barack Obama to push the independent Office of Public Integrity as a bipartisan amendment to larger ethics reform bill that was considered by the Senate.

Our amendment was defeated largely by Senators who said that this was the House’s problem. The reports out today should leave no doubt that this shame is all of our problem — and it is imperative we act soon to fix it. That is why I will do everything I can to bring up the Office of Public Integrity bill for a vote when we return for the lame duck session in November.”