EVENING FOLEY ROUNDUP….Dennis Hastert is under intensifying scrutiny over his handling of the Foley scandal. He and John Shimkus made a statement Monday defending themselves, but the LA Times reports that they “refused to take questions from reporters, who wanted to know when they learned about Foley’s messages to the teenage page.”

Not quite, it turns out. The New York Times says that reporters did ask some questions and here’s what the speaker had to say:

?Would have, could have, should have,? Mr. Hastert said, responding to questions about whether Republicans should have done more.

That’s personal responsibility for you! But we should cut Hastert a break, I suppose. He was probably too busy overseeing those secret investments that he made in land that skyrocketed in value after he personally earmarked money to build a highway nearby.

Sadly for Hastert, not everyone is so understanding:

Republican operatives closely following the battle for the House and Senate said that they are virtually ready to concede nearly a third of the 15 seats the Democrats need to recapture control of the House, and that they will spend the next five weeks trying to shelter other vulnerable incumbents from the fallout of the Foley scandal in hopes of salvaging a slender majority.

….Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council and an important social conservative leader, said “there’s a real chance” that the episode could dethrone the Republican majority. “I think the next 48 hours are critical in how this is handled,” he said, adding that “when a party holds itself out as the guardian of values, this is not helpful.”

….Joe Gaylord, who was the top adviser to Newt Gingrich (Ga.) when Republicans seized control of the House in 1994, was pessimistic about the party’s midterm prospects. He said the fallout from Foley’s resignation comes “very close” to ensuring a Democratic victory in November.

….Leaders from about six dozen socially conservative groups held a conference call late yesterday afternoon, and participants were described as livid with House GOP leaders.

“They are outraged by how Hastert handled this,” said Paul M. Weyrich, a conservative activist who participated in the call. “They feel let down, left aside. How can they allow a guy like [Foley] to remain chairman of the committee on missing and exploited children when there is any question about e-mails?”

….”From what I hear, it is resonating badly and our candidates are on the defensive about this,” Weber said. “The maddening thing about this is if they had done the right thing” by informing Democrats early on and investigating it fully, “there would be no political fallout,” he said.

That’s true. If Hastert had done the right thing, he would have been fine. But that’s the whole problem, isn’t it?

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