Disgraced Republican blame alcoholism for problems

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The fallout continues over the resignation of Florida Republican Representative Mark Foley from the US Congress on Friday after reports that he sent inappropriate e-mails to teenage congressional pages.

Foley has now reportedly entered an alcohol rehab centre, according to a statement released by his lawyer.

Foley, a six-term state representative and chairman of the House caucus on missing and exploited children resigned after ABC News reported he sent messages to current and former underage pages with references to sexual acts and genitalia.

According to Reuters, Foley apparently sent some ‘overly-friendly’ e-mails in August 2005 to a former page who was 16 years old at the time. More recently, Foley has been accused of sending sexually explicit instant messages to House pages.

“I strongly believe that I am an alcoholic and have accepted the need for immediate treatment for alcoholism and other behavioural problems,” Foley said in a statement released today through his attorney, David Roth.

No further information was released regarding whether Foley’s behaviour in sending the inappropriate e-mails is linked to a possible alcohol problem.

Republican leaders are under fire to give an explanation for how much they knew about Foley’s behaviour and when they were first aware of the e-mails.

House Republican leaders have been under pressure since then to explain what they knew about Foley’s behaviour and when they knew it.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, has asked for a federal investigation, stating that no party leaders had seen the e-mails before they were released by ABC news,according to the Orlando Sentinel.

A spokesman for Foley told CNN the congressman acknowledged he had an e-mail exchange with the former page but flatly denied that it was anything inappropriate.

“I have delivered a letter to the Speaker of the House informing him of my decision to resign from the US House of Representatives,” Foley said.

“I am deeply sorry and I apologise for letting down my family and the people of Florida I have had the privilege to represent.”

According to ABC News, Foley’s aides initially blamed Democratic rival Tim Mahoney and Democrats with attempting to smear the congressman before the election.

The campaign for Mahoney, who trails Foley in the polls, told ABC News that it didn’t release the e-mails and wouldn’t make them part of the campaign. In a statement released by Mahoney spokesman Jessica Santillo, the campaign referred to the boy as an “alleged victim.”

“The seriousness of these allegations goes far beyond the tit for tat of a political campaign,” Santillo’s statement read. “This is a matter for the appropriate authorities to investigate. I believe Mr. Foley deserves the benefit of the doubt until these allegations are proven true or false.”

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