Hastert’s been claiming that the first his staff knew about Foley’s “predilections” was last November, when Rodney Alexander notified him about the “send me a picture of you” e-mail that one of his pages received from Foley. Kirk Fordham, who resigned a few days ago as Tom Reynolds’s chief of staff, insists that’s not true, that in fact Hastert’s powerful chief of staff, Scott Palmer, was told about Foley as early as 2003.

Now an anonymous congressional staff member has corroborated Fordham’s story, telling WaPo that Palmer actually confronted Foley about his little problem at some unspecified time before November 2005. And ultimately took no action to stop him.

WaPo:

On Wednesday night, Palmer was described as highly emotional while aides sifted through e-mails and files to determine whether he had ever spoken to Fordham. Several people who spoke with Palmer said the chief of staff was emphatic in denying that he knew anything about Foley’s questionable contacts with young male pages.

Palmer, who shares a townhouse with Hastert when they are in town, is more powerful than all but a few House members. Members know that he speaks for Hastert.

Not sure why they inserted that detail that I boldfaced, but I have my suspicions. In any case, Rich Lowry says that from what he’s hearing through the grapevine, Palmer’s consternation is genuine: he sincerely doesn’t remember having met with Foley about this. The real question, perhaps, is not what Palmer knew but what former House clerk Jeff Trandahl knew. Trandahl, you’ll recall, is the person whom Hastert’s staff asked last November to speak to Foley about the e-mail he’d sent to Rodney Alexander’s page. WaPo has some interesting details about him and the timing of his departure — so interesting, in fact, that Tom Maguire accuses them of having buried the real lede.

Maguire also takes a swipe at Josh “I Question the Timing” Marshall, who once again curiously seems to have no questions about the timing here.

It might not matter:

Democrats now outdistance Republicans on every single issue that could decide voters’ choices come Nov. 7. In addition to winning—for the first time in the NEWSWEEK poll—on the question of which party is more trusted to fight the war on terror (44 to 37 percent) and moral values (42 percent to 36 percent), the Democrats now inspire more trust than the GOP on handling Iraq (47 to 34); the economy (53 to 31); health care (57 to 24); federal spending and the deficit (53 to 29); gas and oil prices (56 to 23); and immigration (43 to 34).

Rasmussen says 36% of Americans want Hastert to resign versus 27% who don’t, with 37% still waiting to see how this plays out.

Elsewhere, Seixon catches Kos using photos to suggest guilt by association. Exit question: what’s really more damaging? Pictures of Bush chatting with Mark Foley? Or Nancy Pelosi marching in lockstep at a San Fran gay-pride parade with a vociferous advocate for pedophilia?

Update: Worried about his slumping poll numbers, Tom Reynolds apologizes to the hometown crowd in an unusual campaign ad. Meanwhile, the New York Times asks “pink elephants” what it’s like to be a gay Republican.

Update: True to HuffPo form, Lawrence O’Donnell seizes on the WaPo tidbit about Hastert sharing a townhouse with his chief of staff and calls him a homo.