ANCHORAGE - Manfred Bekeris said he was floored by the scandal surrounding former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., who resigned last week amid reports he sent sexually suggestive electronic messages to teenage male pages.
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This was a side of Foley he never saw when he was a House page appointed to Republican Rep. Don Young of Alaska in the 2003-2004 school year, the 19-year-old Sitka man said Monday.
"I knew Mark and I thought, 'Wow.' I was really surprised," he said.
"I didn't see him making any advances to any of the pages."
Bekeris said he had regular contact with Foley and was a good friend of the page assigned to the congressman at the time. Foley, now 52, was sociable with pages, regularly stopping to chat, but he never acted the least bit inappropriately, said Bekeris, who attends the University of Idaho.
"There are certain congressmen who are always friendly and some who are always grumpy," he said in a phone interview. "Mark was one of the ones who are always friendly."
Bekeris felt comfortable enough to ask - and get - a scholarship recommendation from Foley.
And he never heard any complaints about Foley from other pages, including the teenager assigned to the congressman.
There were no warnings to watch out for any specific lawmakers, he said. Pages, who are assigned during their junior year in high school, were given general directions to speak to members of Congress only when spoken to first.
"The message was that we were the bottom of the totem pole," Bekeris said.
Foley occasionally sent him brief e-mails asking, "How are things, how is school?" Bekeris said.
"There was nothing out of the ordinary, nothing that would have thrown me off, like 'What do you want from me?'" he said.
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