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O'Donnell: what's up with Hastert's roomie/chief of staff?

As more facts are revealed on this Foley matter, it’s becoming clear to me that there are two Washington DCs — the first is the one we read about in the MSM’s coverage of government — full of stuffed shirts, major egos and jockeying for power, with a lot of waste, fraud and abuse of the taxpayers’ money.

Then there is the other DC that appears when the sun sets — an over-sexed, bacchanalian, orgiastic hotbed of god-knows-what that we hear about in rumors and whispers (in blogs or in private emails). It occasionally peeps into public view when a major scandal erupts, and then the wagons eventually circle and the latter DC quickly “disappears” from public view.

I don’t know what to make of this, but I’ll leave it to you Blenders to analyze, comment and speculate about Lawrence O’Donnell’s column at Huff Post on Denny Hastert and his chief of staff, Scott Palmer. You might recall that Palmer denied that Kirk Fordham told him about Foley’s predatory emails and IMs to teen pages, so he’s a crucial figure in this matter. My emphasis:

In Hastert’s brief, evasive press conference on Thursday, sharp reporters immediately zeroed in on Palmer’s role in the Foley information flow. Did Hastert leap to the defense of his chief of staff’s honor in the crucial credibility contest with Kirk Fordham? Did he say I know Scott Palmer and I know he’s telling the truth? No. He avoided every question with Palmer’s name in it. Hastert obviously does not want to talk about Scott Palmer.

If Fordham did warn Palmer about Foley a long time ago, what are the odds that Palmer did not tell Hastert? As close to zero as you can get. Many chiefs of staff are close, very close, to their bosses on Capitol Hill. But none are closer than Scott Palmer is to Denny Hastert. They don’t just work together all day, they live together.

There are plenty of odd couple Congressmen who have roomed together on Capitol Hill, but I have never heard of a chief of staff who rooms with his boss. It is beyond unusual. But it must have its advantages. Anything they forget to tell each other at the office, they have until bedtime to catch up on. And then there’s breakfast for anything they forgot to tell each other before falling asleep. And then there’s all day at the office. Hastert and Palmer are together more than any other co-workers in the Congress.

Oh god. I hope O’Donnell is ready for the assault on this one. The two DCs are on a direct collision course if someone follows up in a Hastert press conference and asks the right questions.

Hat tip, Phil.


This is up at ABC News:

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert’s chief of staff met with disgraced former Rep. Mark Foley to discuss the time and attention Foley was giving House pages years before the speaker’s office admits becoming aware of the issue, a current House staffer told ABC News.

The staffer, who asked not be identified because of the ongoing FBI and House Ethics Committee investigations, told ABC News of learning in November 2005 about an earlier meeting between Hastert Chief of Staff Scott Palmer and Foley, R-Fla.

November 2005 was around the time Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., head of the House Page Board, and then-House Clerk Jeff Trandahl, who was administrator of the page program, met with Foley about an e-mail exchange Foley had with a former page sponsored by Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-La.

“At that time, I became aware that there was a previous meeting” between Foley and Palmer, the House staffer told ABC News.

Kirk Fordham, who recently stepped down/was pushed out as chief of staff for Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-N.Y) has also said that he met with Palmer to ask for something to be done by the Speaker’s office about Foley’s back in 2003.

Palmer in recent days has flat out said “what Kirk Fordham said did not happen.”

Is Palmer lying, and what does his roomie know?

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding