Following his abrupt resignation on Friday and a current FBI investigation into his alleged sexually explicit communications with underage Congressional pages, former Representative Mark Foley of Florida has checked himself into a rehab facility, according to his attorney, David Roth.
Roth, who would not name the treatment center but said the ex-legislator was admitted over the weekend, gave the Associated Press a statement from Foley, saying, “I strongly believe that I am an alcoholic and have accepted the need for immediate treatment for alcoholism and other behavioral problems.”
In the statement, Foley said that recent events had “crystallized recognition of my long-standing and significant alcoholism and emotional difficulties. I deeply regret and accept full responsibility for the harm I have caused.”
The FBI “is conducting an assessment to see if there’s been a violation of federal law” regarding Foley’s alleged exchanges with minors, says bureau spokesman Richard Kolko. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is also conducting its own probe as “a precursor to a possible criminal investigation,” said spokesman Tom Berlinger.
Among the exchanges between Foley (who was identified as using his initials and birth year of 1954 in his Maf54 screen name) and a 16-year-old page was Maf54’s advise that the teen “strip down,” reports ABC News.
In another, Maf54 responds that he’d “love to slip them off of you” when told the teen is wearing a T-shirt and shorts.
Foley, a Republican, represented the largely GOP West Palm Beach district.
Another looming issue in the scandal is how widespread was knowledge of Foley’s behavior. In a Monday briefing with reporters, White House spokesman Tony Snow said, “The House has to clean up the mess, to the extent there is a mess.”
Democrats have questioned whether the GOP leadership, including House Speaker Dennis Hastert, tried to protect Foley’s House seat during an election year at the expense of the well-being of teenage pages.
On Monday Hastert issued a statement, saying he’s “outraged and disgusted with Congressman Mark Foley’s actions.”