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US House Speaker Refuses to Resign Over Disgraced Lawmaker

The speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives says he will not resign because of the sex scandal that has disgraced a fellow Republican lawmaker.

A conservative American newspaper, The Washington Times, called Tuesday for House Speaker Dennis Hastert to step down. It accuses him of failing to deal properly with the activities of former Representative Mark Foley of the southern state of Florida.

Foley resigned last week after being accused of sending sexually explicit Internet messages to teenage boys working at the Capitol. The FBI is investigating whether Foley broke federal law.

A spokesman for Hastert said the speaker plans to help the Republican Party maintain its majority in the House for the next two years. But the Foley scandal comes just a month before congressional elections that could cost the Republicans their majority.

The Washington Times charges that Hastert either was grossly negligent for overlooking early warning signs about Foley's activities, or that he deliberately ignored the problem in an attempt to smother the scandal.

Hastert says he did not know the extent of the scandal until last Friday. He says he wants to know who in Congress might have been of aware of Foley's behavior, but failed to stop it.

President Bush said Tuesday that he is "shocked and dismayed" at Foley's behavior. He also said he supports Hastert's call for an investigation. Mr. Bush is in California campaigning for Republican lawmakers.

Foley served as co-chairman of a congressional committee set up to protect children from violence and sexual abuse, the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus. He said Monday he is seeking treatment for alcoholism.

Some information for this report provided by AP.