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Foley IM's appear to be 3rd degree felony

Brian Beutler and Ron Brynaert
Published: Monday October 2, 2006

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A passing statement in an instant message conversation with a teenage page might provide investigators with a damning piece of evidence suggesting criminal behavior in the case of former congressman Mark Foley, RAW STORY has learned.

That instant message conversation from 2003 contains the following exchange:

Teen: whered ya go this afternoon (sic)
Maf54: I am in pensecola-had to catch a plane

Foley told the boy that he was chatting from a Pensecola hotel room on campaign business, although he hadn't officially announced his intent to run for reelection to the House, yet. In 2004, Foley won with 68 percent of the vote.

Over the course of several pages of dialogue, that conversation became extraordinarily graphic, and included several direct references to masturbation techniques and frequency, discussion of the child's penis size, and even the congressman's explicit interest in sexual contact with the boy.

However, by acknowledging his Pensacola, FL location, Foley may have offered evidence of his violation of Florida state law Statute 847.0135, which says:

"Any person who knowingly utilizes a computer on-line service, Internet service, or local bulletin board service to seduce, solicit, lure, or entice, or attempt to seduce, solicit, lure, or entice, a child or another person believed by the person to be a child...commits a felony of the third degree."

An article in Monday's New York Times referred to another Florida law, Statute 847.0137 which prohibits the "transmission of pornography by electronic device or equipment."

"A Florida law makes it a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, to transmit 'material harmful to minors by electronic device,'" Adam Liptak reported for the Times. "The law defines the material broadly to include descriptions of 'nudity, sexual conduct, or sexual excitement.'"

Republican Leadership under fire

In the days since the extent of Foley's transgressions were made public, questions have arisen about how much information House Republican leaders had about the Florida congressman's sexual proclivities.

Today, House Speaker Dennis Hastert sought to clear up that confusion by releasing a statement which read in part, "No one in the Republican Leadership, nor Congressman Shimkus, saw those [instant] messages until last Friday when ABC News released them to the public."

However, critics on both the right and the left have pointed out that ABC News was able to obtain the instant message conversation only days after learning about the less-explicit emails. House leadership has known about those same emails since 2005.

Among the harshest critics is David Bossie, head of the conservative group Citizens United. He told the right wing publication Human Events, "Speaker Hastert had knowledge of Congressman Foley's inappropriate behavior and chose to protect a potential pedophile and powerful colleague over a congressional page-Mr. Hastert should resign immediately."

Other instant message conversations between Foley and underage boys do not contain clear indications of the congressman's location, an ambiguity that may confuse which laws apply to him. RAW STORY will continue to search for evidence of his whereabouts at the time of these online sessions.