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Key witness to testify in page scandal

WASHINGTON -- The former clerk of the House will face ethics investigators today in what could be the most important testimony yet on how GOP leaders handled complaints about Representative Mark Foley's behavior with pages.

The questioning of the former clerk, Jeff Trandahl, comes after Representative Rodney Alexander, Republican of Louisiana, spoke with investigators for three hours about how his office had handled a complaint last fall from a former page about e-mails from Foley.

GOP leaders are facing scrutiny over whether they or their aides did too little to stop Foley's inappropriate behavior toward pages when problems surfaced years ago. The reports have been followed by weakening poll numbers for Republicans, who have said that no one in their party knew of the graphic e-mail messages.

Trandahl's testimony is critical in learning how many knew about Foley's behavior with pages, and whether there are more incidents than reported.

Alexander discussed the matter last spring with two top House GOP lawmakers, Majority Leader John A. Boehner of Ohio and the campaign chairman, Tom Reynolds of New York. Both say they spoke with Speaker J. Dennis Hastert about it. Hastert, Republican of Illinois, has said he does not recall this.

Last fall, Trandahl confronted Foley, a Florida Republican, over his e-mails to the Louisiana boy and was alerted about inappropriate e-mails Foley sent in 2001 or 2002 to a former page sponsored by Representative Jim Kolbe, Republican of Arizona.

As the House officer with direct responsibility for the page program, Trandahl is all but certain to know whether there have been other complaints about Foley, including whether, as alleged, he tried to enter the pages' dorm while drunk.

The panel is trying to determine whether lawmakers and staff aides had acted properly when told of Foley's behavior.

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