MSNBC broke the news last week that "the U.S. attorney in Arizona has started a 'preliminary assessment' of the trip, after an unidentified source made allegations about the congressman's behavior on the expedition."
Kolbe's office denied any wrongdoing in a statement to MSNBC: "The rafting trip back in 1996 consisted of five current staff, two former pages, and his sister. There is absolutely no basis and no truth to any (allegations of) inappropriate behavior."
In related news, Kolbe spokesperson Korenna Cline abruptly resigned last Friday, Oct. 13, less than a week after she was quoted telling The Washington Post that Kolbe had talked to Congressman Mark Foley about his overly friendly e-mails with pages back in 2000, after a former page had alerted him that some e-mails had seriously weird undertones.
Kolbe contradicted that version of events after the Post story broke, saying that he had passed along the complaint to the clerk who oversees the page program and to Foley's office.
"It was a pleasure working with all of you," Cline wrote in an e-mail to the media. "I have decided to pursue another job opportunity and today is my last day."
Footnote: The best line of Pagegate that we've read so far was in the WaPo blog Zeitgeist Checklist: "GOP staffer Kirk Fordham testifies that he warned Hastert aide Scott Palmer about Foley's antics; Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.) and House clerk Jeff Trandahl also had inklings. Incidentally, Fordham, Kolbe, Trandahl and Foley are all gay, and Palmer is Hastert's D.C. roommate. Pretty soon, the Republican caucus is going to get its own show on Bravo."
Pearce's e-mail included the following paragraph filled with deep, dark secrets that ZOG does not want you to know: "And who are these all-powerful masters of the media? As we shall see, to a very large extent they are Jews. It isn't simply a matter of the media being controlled by profit-hungry capitalists, some of whom happen to be Jews. If that were the case, the ethnicity of the media masters would reflect, at least approximately, the ratio of rich Gentiles to rich Jews. Despite a few prominent exceptions, the preponderance of Jews in the media is so overwhelming that we are obliged to assume that it is due to more than mere happenstance."
Pearce, the Legislature's biggest proponent of the proposed English-only constitutional amendment on the November ballot, apologized in a follow-up e-mail that contained a number of curious capitalizations and typos: "I erred in reading just the first two paragraphs of that article when I Should have read it all. I've only now had it brought to my attention how Ugly the words contained in it really are. They are not mine and I disavow Them completely. Worse still, the website links to a group whose politics Are the ugliest imaginable. I am saddened and embarrassed that this went Out with my name on it and I am also saddened at the loss of the friend who Sent this to me. His heart is dark and I am unable to get him to see that What drives him is ugly and evil at its core ... . Finally, me heartfelt apologies for not being more careful and for not Reading the attachment in its entirety."
Pearce appears to be rapidly losing friends in the GOP congressional delegation. Since calling for the return of Operation Wetback, he's been smacked around by Congressman John Shadegg, Jeff Flake and J.D. Hayworth. Even Congressional District 8 candidate Randy Graf, who is one of Pearce's best buddies, has taken a primary TV spot that prominently featured Pearce's endorsement off his Web page, though you can still view it at YouTube.
"Randy feels very strongly that Russell's heart is in the right place and that he's not a racist, but we've had our brushes with those charges as well," says Graf campaign manager R.T. Gregg.
For more on the Pearce story as it unfolds, visit The Arizona Republic assistant editorial page editor Dan Nowicki's fun-filled political blog, Plugged In, at www.azcentral.com/blogs.
QB Adam Austin, starting because first-string quarterback Willie Tuitama has gotten his bell rung real good twice this season, injured his knee, forcing coach Mike Stoops to turn to senior Kris Heavner, a former starter who had briefly transferred to Baylor after losing his starting role and who only returned to the UA to play baseball. Heavner is slated to start Saturday's home game against the Oregon State Beavers.