Senior Jason Gross had no idea that a summer job as a Congressional page-often a foot in the door to the insular world of Washington politics-would lead to a scandal-ridden appearance on "Larry King Live" four years later.
Gross was sponsored as a Congressional page in the summer of 2002 by Republican Mark Foley, a former representative from Florida who was known for championing the cause of missing and exploited children and supporting legislation against sexual predators.
Foley resigned Friday after sexually explicit text and instant messages he had sent to teenage male pages were made public.
"He was always very engaging with all the pages, like many of the other Congressmen," Gross said. "I was just shocked and disgusted by [the explicit messages]. You know, there was never any warning about him back in 2002."
Foley's communication with male pages included lurid references to masturbation, fetishes and undressing the teenagers.
According to national media reports, a number of former pages said they were warned about Foley.
Gross, however, said he did not hear about or experience the Congressman's inappropriate behavior.
"I didn't get to know him very well," Gross explained. "I only interacted with him on a few different occasions."
The senior-who appeared on Tuesday night's episode of "Larry King Live"-said that though the media portrayal of Foley has been fair, his perception of Foley has changed dramatically.
"He basically deceived all of his constituents and the entire country, especially because he was this leader of the fight against child exploitation," Gross said. "He obviously has to take responsibility for this major breach of the public trust."
Since his resignation, Foley has checked into a rehabilitation center for alcoholism and behavioral problems.
Gross, however, said he saw no indication of alcohol dependence while working for the Congressman.
"I'm pretty skeptical of that excuse and even if it is true, it's really not relevant," Gross said.
Despite the scandal, he does not regret participating in the page program, Gross added.
The highly competitive Congressional page program offers 72 rising high school seniors a chance to interact with lawmakers for a summer in Washington, D.C.
"A lot of it was just running errands for Congressmen: getting coffee, running bills and resolutions from the House floor to members' offices," Gross said. "It's unfortunate that [the scandal] has tarnished the prestige of the page program."
Days after Foley's resignation, national media reported that some Republican leaders had known about the inappropriate exchanges since late 2005.
The scandal has the potential to derail GOP efforts just weeks before November's midterm elections by drawing national attention away from other issues, said David Rohde, professor of political science.
"It undermines confidence in the Republican Party and its leadership.... It also prevents the Republicans from pressing their election strategies," Rohde explained.
"The major news shows and the major newspapers haven't been covering Bush's claims that the Democrats are soft on terrorism-they've been covering the Foley scandal," he added.
The GOP leaders' inaction after finding out about the inappropriate communications has extended the relevance of the story, Rohde said.