Conservatives Call on Hastert to Resign

House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R.-Ill.) is coming under fire from conservatives for his failing to take action against disgraced Rep. Mark Foley (R.-Fla.), who resigned last week for inappropriate communications with teenage pages.

“Speaker Hastert had knowledge of Congressman Foley’s inappropriate behavior and chose to protect a potential pedophile and powerful colleague over a congressional page,” said David Bossie, president of conservative advocacy group Citizens United.

Joining Bossie’s call for Hastert to resign was nationally syndicated radio show host Michael Reagan.

“Any member of Congress who was aware of the sexual emails and protected the congressman should also resign effective immediately,” Reagan said. “I was sexually abused by a day camp counselor at age eight and also made to be part of child pornography.”

Hastert said in a news conference Monday that neither he nor other Republican leaders knew about the lurid exchanges between Foley and the teenage pages dating back to 2003. “As a parent and speaker of the House, I am disgusted,” Hastert said.

However, that didn’t blunt the criticism from Bossie and Reagan. Bossie’s group, which is best known for producing the movies “Celsius 41.11” in 2004 and the just-released “Border War,” said Hastert had failed in his duty to investigate the matter “before it became a public relations problem.” Bossie said the problem may cost Republicans control of the House in November as a result.

“This inaction demonstrates a lack of leadership on Speaker Hastert’s part, and calls into question both his judgment and character,” Bossie said. “If Speaker Hastert was willing to sacrifice a child to protect Rep. Foley’s seat and his own leadership position, then he surely does not share our American and conservative values.”

Conservative Criticism Mounts

Two powerful conservative-leaning groups this afternoon joined in the criticism of Republicans for their handling of the Foley matter.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Center, issued a scathing press release and then slammed Republican leaders in his widely read Washington Update.

“Democrats seeking to exploit the resignation of Rep. Mark Foley,” Perkins said, “are right to criticize the slow response of Republican congressional leaders to his communications with male pages.”

Perkins said the untold story of the Foley incident is “the link between homosexuality and child sexual abuse.”

“Ignoring this reality got the Catholic Church into trouble over abusive priests, and now it is doing the same to the House GOP leadership,” Perkins said. “They discounted or downplayed earlier reports concerning Foley’s behavior—probably because they did not want to appear ‘homophobic.’ The Foley scandal shows what happens when political correctness is put ahead of protecting children.”

Meanwhile, the group Judicial Watch issued its own press release attacking Republicans. President Tom Fitton echoed Bossie and Reagan’s view that any Republican who knew about Foley’s actions and failed to do something should resign.

“And let’s be clear, the ‘overly friendly’ communications that the House leadership has admitted to knowing about are not innocent and should not be downplayed,” Fitton said. “All of Foley’s reported communications were inappropriate and perhaps illegal. Congressman [John] Shimkus, Congressman [Tom] Reynolds, Speaker Hastert, and Majority Leader [John] Boehner, among others, have some serious explaining to do.”

No Great Loss for Republicans

Foley’s resignation was greeted with applause from at least one conservative—Linda Harvey of Mission America. She said the moderate Republican (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 78%) won’t be missed.

“This outing of another RINO Republican won’t hurt the chances of conservatives at the polls in November, but will help clarify voter choices,” Harvey said. “Get these people out of the party!”

Harvey cited Foley’s affiliation with liberal Republican Christie Whitman’s PAC. Foley was not only endorsed by Whitman for re-election, but he was also a member of the It’s My Party Too advisory board—that it until his resignation, when his name was removed from the website.