Federal prosecutors in Arizona have opened a preliminary investigation of a camping trip Congressman Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., took 10 years ago that included two teenage congressional pages, a Justice Department spokesman told NBC News. NBC News first reported on the camping and rafting trip on Tuesday.
A spokesman for the Justice Department in Washington said 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.
[..]As NBC News first reported, Kolbe took a tour down the Grand Canyon in July 1996 with a group that included two 17-year-old males who had recently left the congressional page program.
[..]NBC also interviewed the two former pages, who are now in their late 20s. One of them said that Kolbe was a gentleman and never acted in an improper fashion. He recalled that the pair spent time in Kolbe's house at one point - and briefly were alone with him on the trip - and that Kolbe always acted professionally and decently.
The other would not comment on Kolbe's behavior during the trip or characterize it in any way.
"I don't want to get into the details," he said. "I just don't want to get into this... because I might possibly be considered for a job in the administration." (emph. added)
However, the former page - who is the one to whom Kolbe allegedly paid special attention - said he had a "blast" on the trip and did not report anything improper to his parents or any House officials after the trip. He said he has a favorable impression of the page program to this day and likes Kolbe.