Chronicling the highs, lows, quips, quotes, comings and goings of Washington, D.C. spokesguys and spokesgals

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Potomac Flacks Has Moved!

Potomac Flacks readers: As of October 3, 2006, we've upgraded our site and moved from our blogspot address over to Be sure to change your bookmarks...

Monday, October 02, 2006

Foley Fallout: The Spin Wars

Fallout from the Foley affair continue (while ABC continues to break new ground by reporting that Foley discussed an in-person rendezvous with a page), as the Hill and the campaign committees shift into full-tilt spin wars today:
  • Hastert returns to the Hill to show he's in charge, escalating his rhetoric to create some distance between him and Foley ("The speaker is outraged and disgusted with Congressman Mark Foley's actions," a spokesman told CongressDaily)

  • Dems try to link every Republican to the House leadership's handling of the issue. From Hotline's Dem Playbook: "Pay no heed to the distinction between the e-mails and IMs. There's no evidence (yet) that any Republican leaders knew about Foley's cybersex IMs. There's plenty of evidence that they knew how uncomfortable the 'overly friendly' e-mails made at least one page. So the Dems will press the GOP on what they knew about the former and will constantly, in their press releases, refer to the 'GOP's knowledge of the sexually explicit e-mails.'"

  • Republicans demand full investigation. Hotline's Republican Playbook: "The first play is to repudiate the conduct and demand that the entire investigative apparatus of the federal government, from the senior-most agents in the FBI to the lowliest computer crime techs at the Secret Service -- rush to investigative Foley."

Less Than Half of Grassroots Emails Reaching the Hill

Wash Post's Birnbaum reports on a troubling study out today by Capitol Advantage (or at least troubling to those of us who plan grassroots advocacy campaigns targeted at the Hill), showing that "six of the 10 leading companies that run Web sites that send e-mails for interest groups failed to deliver even half of those e-mails through their systems."

Birnbaum adds that, "The number of e-mails has mushroomed in part because of the now-common practice among interest groups to rally their troops via cyberspace. Generally, a lobby will send an e-mail to its most eager members, which directs them to a Web site. Once there, the members fill out a form that routes to lawmakers e-mails that advocate whatever it is the group is pressing for at the moment."

Drinking and IM'ing Don't Mix

Is Mark Foley a Potomac Flacks reader? Back when Rep. Bob Ney pled guilty in September, we noted that alcohol had supplanted prescription drugs as the new acceptable alibi of choice for D.C. pols caught in a bind.

Now we hear that Foley has checked himself into rehab to undergo treatment for alcoholism. Apparently it was the booze that made him send all those dirty IM's to 16-year old boys. Riiiiiiight...

Alcoholism is a serious problem and all, but I can't help but point out that checking himself into rehab has two immediate damage control benefits for Foley: 1) allowing him to hide out and avoid being stalked by the media, and 2) laying the groundwork for his eventual legal defense on child exploitation charges.

Speaking of damage control, it sounds like the Hastert/Boehner/Reynolds/Shimkus press teams were busy over the weekend trying to plot their next defensive steps. Hastert's request to Gonzales for an investigation is a good step, but The Swamp points out that blaming the media (specifically the St. Petersburg Times) seems to be a new tactic as well:

The letters are interesting because they seem to reveal an emerging damage-control strategy that Hastert may use to defend House Republicans in their handling of the Foley matter. It boils down to saying House Republicans did more than the media did when faced with the same Foley emails.

The following paragraph contains the damage-control strategy.

According to an Editor's Note that appeared on the St. Petersburg Times' website yesterday, the Times was given a set of emails from Mr. Foley to Representative Alexander's former page in November of 2005. (See "A Note From the Editors" located at, visited on September 30, 2006). The editors state that they viewed this exchange as "friendly chit chat" and decided not to publish it after hearing an explanation from Representative Foley. Acting on this same communication, the Chairman of the House Page Board and the then Clerk of the House confronted Mr. Foley, demanded he cease all contact with the former page as his parents had requested, and believed they had privately resolved the situation as the parents had requested.

So the usually snapping watchdogs of the Times essentially did nothing with the emails after apparently buying Foley's explanation while Rep. John Shimkus (R-Il.) who heads the House Page Board and the former House clerk "confronted" Foley demanding he cease all contact with the teenager.