Please see update below
The hullabaloo over former Congressman Mark Foley, a Republican, apparently hasn't fazed U.S. Sen. Larry Craig. Just as Washington, D.C. is abuzz with news about Foley's sexually explicit e-mails to high-school pages that served in the House, Craig put out word last week that his office is accepting applications for new pages to serve on Capitol Hill.
"The Senate Page program offers high school students the opportunity to work side by side with U.S. Senators," Craig said in a prepared statement. "They gain valuable experience and have a chance to be directly involved in their government."
He does add a note for parents: "I have worked closely with the Senate Page program for the past nine years and have continued to be impressed by their professionalism and care for the pages. I am confident the pages are safe, but I encourage parents to contact my office if they have any concerns."
Idaho Democrats briefly seized upon the Foley matter earlier this month, but despite some mentions, Democrats got little traction in the state's media.
Now Doug Nilson, an Idaho State University political science professor, thinks Democrats might be onto something. Disgust over the Foley scandal, Nilson said, could turn off Christian conservatives on Election Day--something that could threaten the prospects of Republican Bill Sali's run for Congress. "I think there's a lot of people that will just stay home on election day," Nilson said.
Update: Just as Boise Weekly went to press, a gay activist announced on a nationally-syndicated radio program that U.S. Sen. Larry Craig, a Republican, has engaged in same-sex relations for several years.
Mike Rogers, who contributes to www.blogactive.com, said after two years of research that he was "100 percent solid" with his information, and that he had spoken with men who had been sex partners with Craig.
The accusations, which were based on anonymous sources, were met with scorn and immediate denial by Craig spokesman Sid Smith in Boise.
"Mr. Rogers' claims are completely ridiculous and not based in fact," Smith said. "They're just ridiculous."
Rogers made his claims on "The Ed Schultz Show," a liberal talk show that is not broadcast in the Treasure Valley but that can be heard online.
Rogers has made it his niche in the gay activist realm to "out" conservative Republicans who, like Craig, have voted against gay rights issues. In June, Craig voted to approve a Constitutional ban on gay marriage. He is married to the former Suzanne Thompson. They have three children.
"I won't say he's gay," Rogers said. "Maybe he's bisexual. I will say he has sexual encounters with men" and then votes against their issues, Rogers said.
Schultz, the radio host, called the allegations "a pretty inflammatory report on a man's reputation." Rogers said he was confident in his information, and that he was prepared for any legal action Craig might take.
But Smith said he doubted Craig would take action. "The thinking around here is, that would give this more credibility than it really deserves."
The story was reported today by the Spokane Spokesman-Review and the Idaho State Journal in Pocatello. The Idaho Statesman has not covered the story to date.
Susan Wheeler, spokeswoman for U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, declined to comment.
Brian Fischer, the director of the Idaho Values Alliance and whom Rogers referred to in his interview, said in an e-mailed statement to supporters that, "because his "evidence" comes from sources who have refused to come forward and identify themselves, but instead have chosen to remain anonymous, it should be given no weight."