Inspector General Report on Pages Due Next Week

Posted January 22, 2008 at 6:40pm

The House Inspector General is expected to complete an investigation next week into the expulsion of four House pages accused of shoplifting and engaging in public oral sex — incidents that prompted the controversial resignation of two Republican Members from the House Page Board in December.

A second investigation by an independent group into the entire House page program has not yet begun, said House Administration Committee spokesman Kyle Anderson.

Michael Steel, a spokesman for Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), said Boehner will not make any decisions about replacing the two GOP board members until after the IG’s report is released.

“We’re going to have to wait and see the IG report and determine how to proceed from there,” Steel said.

The IG investigation is one of two probes initiated by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Boehner after Reps. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-Fla.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) publicly announced that the program was flawed and unexpectedly resigned.

Their chief complaint was that Clerk of the House Lorraine Miller failed to keep them up to date on the pages’ expulsions, although both later admitted that Miller immediately notified them of the oral sex incident.

The IG investigation marks the second time in the past year that the House has examined the program. Last spring lawmakers restructured the House Page Board after discovering that former Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) had sent lewd messages to several teenage pages.

At that time, the board was expanded from five members to eight — including a seat for an extra member of the minority party — in an attempt to respond to complaints of poor communication and allegations of partisanship.

Brown-Waite’s and Capito’s resignations incited another partisan battle over whether the program is correctly supervised.

The IG report will focus on the allegations made by Brown-Waite and Capito, while the independent entity will “conduct the broader review of the structure and functioning” of the program, Anderson said.

House leaders have not yet chosen a group to carry out the independent investigation, Anderson added. That probe, whose findings will be made public, will take months to complete, he said.

The board has had only one meeting since Brown-Waite and Capito resigned in early December, said Alec Gerlach, spokesman for Page Board Chairman Dale Kildee (D-Mich.). That meeting, on Dec. 13, discussed the options for addressing Brown-Waite’s and Capito’s allegations. To keep the meeting technically bipartisan, a representative from Boehner’s office sat in; the same set-up might be used again if there are no new Republican board members in time for a meeting that’s to be scheduled in a couple of weeks.

Since Kildee became chairman last spring, the board has met six times.

Two meetings took place in December — the first of which convinced Brown-Waite and Capito to resign. Brown-Waite said at the time that her concerns were two-fold: She felt Miller wasn’t keeping her sufficiently informed, and the pages seemed to lack proper supervision.

“I hope it got Nancy Pelosi’s attention,” she said. “The Clerk of the House has many duties. Maybe this is a duty that should be under someone with less responsibilities because I get the feeling it’s on the back burner.”

Miller has said that she has kept the board up to date.

The communication complaint first became an issue early in the fall, when Brown-Waite and Capito felt they didn’t hear soon enough about the shoplifting incident. Kildee said that a meeting was held on Nov. 9 to resolve the issue and Miller was asked to notify all board members of such matters immediately. The entire board was notified of the recent sexual misconduct, which took place after that November meeting, in a timely manner.