WASHINGTON — A year after a page scandal rocked the House of Representatives, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is under fire for failing to monitor House pages after four were dismissed recently for shoplifting and sexual misconduct.
The two Republican congressional members of the House Page Board — Reps. Ginny Brown-Waite of Florida and Shelly Moore Capito of West Virginia — resigned late this week, blaming House Clerk Lorraine Miller for not giving them timely notification of the transgressions.
Miller's office oversees the program, which sponsors about 70 high school juniors working in Congress for a year.
The House instituted changes and increased oversight of the page system earlier this year after former Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., made sexual overtures to several male pages.
In a terse statement Friday, Pelosi said, "The House Page Board must undertake an immediate and thorough review of the adequacy of the supervision and security at the page dorm."
Brown-Waite, who resigned from the board Thursday, said in a letter to Pelosi, "It is clear to me that you have paid nothing more than lip service to a wholesale revamping of the program, and that you have learned nothing from the lessons of the Mark Foley scandal."
Brown-Waite blamed "the failed leadership of the clerk" for what she said was "even less oversight and less supervision" than in other congressional sessions.
Miller — the first African-American official of the House, who was appointed by Pelosi in January — defended the policies in a statement.
"As part of our program overhaul, we have adopted a zero-tolerance policy when faced with rules violations or conduct that is ethically or legally suspect," she said.
Miller said Friday that only in one of the cases was Brown-Waite "not informed immediately of a page's dismissal — the incident occurred over a weekend, and she was informed on the next business day."
Miller said there was immediate notification this week of what Brown-Waite said was "inappropriate sexual indiscretions between the students."
Capito, who resigned from the board on Friday, said in a statement that "unfortunately, the problems with communication between board members that plagued the program in the past have only continued under new House leadership. ... There have been numerous occurrences this year in which board members have not received timely information."
In the Foley scandal, Democrats were sharply critical that information was limited to the House Page Board chairman. The current chairman, Rep. Dale Kildee, D-Mich., said in a statement that he "regretted" the resignations of his colleagues and echoed some of their complaints.
"Pages who were found in serious violation of the page code of conduct this year were immediately expelled from the program and sent home," he said.
"The board was not satisfied with the manner and timeliness in which it was informed of these actions," Kildee added. "Therefore, in our page board meeting of November 9, 2007, the board unanimously agreed that the clerk of the House should immediately and simultaneously inform all members in cases where pages were dismissed from the program. Indeed, that was the case in the most recent incident."